Fertiliser firm revived to boost supply, better prices

Agriculture Deputy Minister Anthony Mavunde cuts a ribbon at the launch of the TFC-subsidized fertiliser distribution exercise yesterday. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The Tanzania Fertiliser Company has been given new strength to enable it to play a key role in the supply of the crucial ingredient

Dar es Salaam. The government has revived the Tanzania Fertiliser Company (TFC) in a bid to ensure a sufficient supply of fertilisers at reasonably lower than market prices.

Eight years down the road, the company had stopped involving itself in selling fertilisers due to commercial and capital reasons. However, TFC is now back in the game as the government yesterday launched the distribution of the product at a subsidised price.

It was revealed that the government gave the company some Sh6 billion in capital.

Speaking at an event that was graced by the Agriculture deputy Minister, Mr Anthony Mavunde, the company’s general manager, Mr Samuel Mshote, said to start with, a total of 2,700 tonnes of urea will be distributed to the food basket regions, including Mbeya, Songwe, Iringa, Njombe, Morogoro, Rukwa, Ruvuma, and Katavi. “We are targeting to distribute 8,100 tonnes between now and the end of April,” said Mshote, adding that “a 50-kilo bag of fertiliser will be sold at Sh70,000 compared to the Dar es Salaam market price of Sh112,000.”

The prices increase in other regions depending on the distance from the port city of Dar es Salaam.

Mr Mshote thanked the government for the support, but said that in a bid to make TFC even stronger, they needed Sh45 billion in capital against the available Sh6 billion. He said with the Sh45 billion in capital, they will be able to import 25,000 metric tons of fertilizer to be distributed to various parts of the country.

He said to ensure the company’s sustainability in fertiliser supply, the government of Tanzania and that of Morocco will next week start talks for setting up a blending facility in Kisarawe, Coast Region. Responding to the question of capital, Mavunde said the government will be ready to dish out more capital only if they are convinced by TFC to do so. “We need to see the return on the Sh6 billion that we have disbursed as capital.

If you do so, we will have a reason to work on your request,” said Mavunde.

During the 2022/23 financial year, the government increased the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture to Sh751 billion, well above the Sh290 billion approved in the 2021/22 financial year. Speaking earlier, TFC board chairman Florence Turuka said the impact of external shocks is a wake-up call for the country to start production of fertiliser in the near future.

A fertiliser shortage, worsened by the Russia- Ukraine war, is driving up their prices and global food prices. “As a country, we are compelled to import at a high price.

To address this, we have no option, but start producing fertilisers locally,” said Dr Turuka.

As TFC waits for the plan on paper to materialise, he said Tanzania had an enabling infrastructure that could enable the country to feed the local market and neighboring countries. Official data have Tanzania can only produce locally 10 percent of the annual demand of 430,000 tonnes of fertilisers, with the rest being imported.