Friday, April 20, 2012
By Henry Sinyangwe
Thu 19 Apr. 2012, 13:00 CAT
AGRICULTURE minister Emmanuel Chenda says the government cannot afford to revamp operations of the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia because the undertaking is very expensive.
During his tour of the fertiliser production plant in Kafue on Tuesday, Chenda said the government could not manage to run the plant as the cost of revamping it to its 132,000 tonnes production potential was above the K1.6 trillion budget for the whole ministry.
‘'Our total budget as a ministry is K1.6 trillion and revamping this plant would chew up the whole budget, so the ultimate solution as government is to privatise this plant as soon as we find a suitable investor," he said.
Chenda's remarks followed NCZ chief executive officer Richard Soko's call on the government to assist with K25 billion to revamp the Ammonium Nitrate plant as it had ready market from Africa Explosives and also rehabilitation of the whole plant at the cost of US $40 million to improve its operations.
And Chenda also said farming inputs would be delivered before the commencement of the 2012/2013 farming season.
He said this would be done through early completion of the tendering process so that the selected bidders could begin early.
Chenda said the government was redesigning the Farmer Input Support Programme to make sure the inputs reach the intended farmers and not individuals that did not need government's support.
"The process had been hijacked FISP but now we want to be on top of things; so we are putting in measures to ensure that the inputs are delivered to the intended farmers and not people that made the who process corrupt and benefited the wrong individuals,'' he said.
Chenda also said the government would consider NCZ's request to increase the production tonnage from 30,000 to 70,000 metric tonnes.
The Zambia Public Procurement Authority, on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has invited bids for the supply of 64,028,50 metric tonnes of basal dressing and 89,605,20 metric tonnes of top dressing.