Fake fertiliser has flooded the Zambian market and harvest for next year is seriously endangered.
Farmers are paying dearly for near worthless sacks of chemicals including gravel labeled as fertiliser.
The situation has been compounded by the failure of the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZBS) who in spite of collecting huge sums of money, fail to test and certify the fertilizer.
The inability of the Patriotic Front government to procure fertiliser for the growing of the nation’s staple food has left vulnerable to the counterfeit fertiliser that has flooded the market.
And private companies importing fertilizer into the country are paying an exorbitant K9 000 000 for inspection, sampling, testing and certification by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZBS) and a named company was charged K1 826.50 per truck for a consignment of 60 metric tonnes of urea.
Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) deputy director Samuel Phiri has admitted that unscrupulous businessmen have flooded the market with an assortment of all manner of fertilizers and that farmers were facing the risk of being cheated out of their money.
Dr Phiri has said there were a variety of different brands of fertilizers that were not authenticated or tested by the Zambia Bureau of Standards on the market.
Dr Phiri claimed that the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) had been given a contract to manufacture 70 500 metric tonnes of D-Compound and that the company had so far produced 67 000 metric tonnes which was being distributed to farmers under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
Dr Phiri said there was no need for farmers to get desperate because government had put in all the necessary measures to ensure that fertilizer was delivered and distributed to all farmers under FISP.
Fertiliser of unknown composition and efficacy has flooded the Zambian market with the Zambia Bureau of Standards being unable to regulate the industry through laboratory examinations.
And fertiliser stockists have alleged that the bureau of standards is charging them $7 per tonne, an amount it is claiming to be ‘inspection fees’ but is not giving them clearance certificates.
The sources have also bemoaned the weak policing of the industry that supports the production of the nation’s staple food saying Compound D (basal dressing) and Urea (top dressing) of questionable quality has flooded the Zambia market.
In the last marketing season, the country recorded an eight per cent reduction in maize production and with the current confusion in the procurement and distribution of the farming inputs, it is predicted that Zambia might record a further drop in maize production.
There is a high probability that Zambia may in the next coming years begin importing maize as the agriculture would have been thrown into shambles.
Omnia, Nyiombo, Greenbelt Fertilizers, ETG, Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ), Profert and Lowis Dreyfus have been supplying different brands of basal dressing fertilizers raising suspicions that some companies could have been taking advantage of the situation to cheat farmers.
The Daily Nation has a collection of an assortment of the fertilizers which the Zambia Bureau of Standards has failed to test and