Zimbabwe

Serious fertilizer shortage hits Zim

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by Lizwe Sebatha

BULAWAYO - A serious shortage of fertilizer has hit Zimbabwe's farming sector sparking fears of another poor harvest in a country that has experienced acute food shortages for most of the past decade, a farmers' organisation said on Monday.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) vice president Berean Mukwende told ZimOnline that Ammonium Nitrate (AN) fertilizer - a key requirement in maize production - is scarce in the country and urged the government to urgently import some to avert disaster.

"Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer is in short supply in the country and if no measures are put, farmers risk producing poor yields," Mukwende said, adding; "The crops are at wilting stage and the challenge that farmers are faced with to protect their crops is the shortage of the Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer."

Agriculture Minister Herbert Murerwa was unavailable for comment on the matter.

Another poor farming season would have devastating effects on the country which has been hoping for better fortunes after years of poor harvests blamed on poor policies by President Robert Mugabe's previous administration which dragged the country into endless food shortages since the turn of the millennium following the veteran leader's controversial farm seizure programme.

The chaotic and often violent land reforms which started in 2000 displaced established white commercial farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers resulting in dramatic fall in food production.

Mugabe, who says the land reform exercise was necessary to correct a colonial land ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished blacks to poor soils in arid regions, denies his land reforms are to blame for hunger in Zimbabwe that was once a regional breadbasket.

The veteran leader instead blames poor weather and Western sanctions he says have hampered importation of fertilizers, seed, and other farming inputs. - ZimOnline