Monday, June 10, 2013

Norwegian fertiliser firm to build plant in Mtwara

A Norwegian fertiliser company, YARA-International has unveiled its long-term plans to set up fertilisers-manufacturing factory in Tanzania in a broader quest to enhance farmers’ access to the inputs.

The plan was disclosed at the weekend at a forum of fertilisers-distribution agencies organised by the Norway-based firm, which is specialised in the manufacturing and distribution of high-quality fertilisers globally, including Tanzania.

However, the latest revelation has come as the government struggles to lure potential foreign and local investors to support its ambitious and national-wide agriculture revolution crusade, dubbed ‘Kilimo Kwanza.’

Significant progress has been made since ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ concept came into force, but experts say some challenges still exist, including setting up a viable mechanism to increase usage of fertilisers, lack of awareness (on the part of farmers) on the importance of applying fertilisers.

YARA-Tanzania Country Director Pal Oystein Stormorken said the company has come up with a number of strategies targeting to address some of the snags inhibiting improved productivity in the agriculture, said to employ 80 per cent of the population.

In a span of three years since the company started operations in Tanzania, it has imported and distributed high-quality fertilisers to farmers across the country, he said, adding “and the results have been very impressing … improved productivity, harvests and more farmers’ income.”

The company has established fertilisers-distribution outlets in different regions countrywide, from which farmers could easily access the agricultural inputs.

As part of its long-term strategies, according to firm’s boss, the company plans to put up a fertilisers-manufacturing plant in Tanzania, but noted that implementation of the plan would depend on the natural gas situation in Mtwara and other regions in the southern part of the country.

Natural gas is an important ingredient in fertilisers-production, and that sufficient quantity of the resource could make the envisaged fertilisers-manufacturing plant a reality.

“In fact, if we are to set up a fertilizer plant here, it is not going to be for Tanzania alone, we will export the product to other East African countries and rest of Africa …. In other words, it must be a large-scale fertiliser-plant. That’s why we have to be satistified with the availability of raw material (natural gas),” observed YARA country director.

“Yes, we have such plans in future, but we need to make thorough assessment of natural gas situation before venturing into that (setting up fertilisers factory),” said Stormorken.

Hilary Patto, YARA-Tanzania Head of Marketing and Distribution, said besides selling fertilisers to the farmers, the company also educates them on the importance of using fertilisers and ABCs of applying the inputs.

In these initiatives, YARA collaborates with national agriculture development institutions and government agencies, Patto said.

Galus Mapunda, one of the farmers who attended the event, said “I used to harvest 500kgs of tobacco per one acre (before I started applying YARA fertilisers), but I am getting up to 1200kgs now.”

Songea-based farmer Oward Similar said: “At the moment, I get around 45 and 50 bags from one acre of maize, a drastic increase from 15 bags I used to harvest when applying other types of fertilisers. Bumper harvest has really improved my life and other farmers who use YARA fertilisers.” At the gala, which was attended by high-profile dignitaries, YARA awarded several individuals and local companies which excelled in the distribution of YARA products.

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