Government plans to establish a $750 million fertiliser manufacturing plant in Chiredzi are at advanced stages, according to Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira.
The plant will produce 500 000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate annually amid reports Masvingo Province has potential to contribute $5,2 billion to the Gross Domestic Product by 2030.
Addressing stakeholders during a provincial business conference at a local hotel recently, Prof Murwira said there was no way Masvingo could not be self-sufficient given the resources in the province.
“We have all the strategic minerals in Masvingo that, if utilised, will help in ensuring that we achieve a $5,2 billion GDP for the province by 2030,” said Prof Murwira.
“We are going to put up a fertiliser plant in Chiredzi. The plant will be set up at the coalfields at Mkwasine where we are going to convert coal into ammonium nitrate. We are now at a stage where we are looking for companies to construct the plant. We secured $750 million in our Science and Technology division, which is basically our move towards heritage-based science. The coal we have is our heritage.
“We must not use our coal for making fire only but to produce ammonium nitrate since there is hydro-carbon in the coal ore. We have a potential to produce 520 000 tonnes of fertiliser per year, yet the country only needs 320 000 tones. This means we would export the difference,” he said.
Fertiliser remains central to the country’s ability to produce enough food to feed the people. Prof Murwira said it was not wise for people to stampede for foreign currency at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe when they were not producing anything for export in return for the scarce foreign currency.
“I wonder why people would queue for foreign currency at the RBZ when they are not creating any foreign currency.
‘‘We are supposed to start producing so that foreigners come with foreign currency to buy our products.
‘‘We have quite a number of water bodies in Masvingo through which a greenbelt can be created. We should embark on massive irrigation from water in Manyuchi Dam in Mwenezi, Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in Chivi and Masvingo districts,” he said.
“We cannot use the water bodies for swimming only. Our Runde catchment is home to 2,5 million megalitres of running water while Save catchment, which also passes through our province, has 1,6 million megalitres of the precious liquid.
‘‘This water can be utilised and turn our region into a food hub or food basket of the country. We can as well export water to dry neighbouring countries like Botswana.
‘‘ Minister of State, there is nothing that can stop us from constructing a pipeline from Runde to Botswana or South Africa.”
Speaking earlier, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira, said he was optimistic that Masvingo was going to rise above the prevailing economic challenges and realise the 2030 vision of being an upper middle-class economy.
The conference was attended by chief executives from all seven Rural District Councils, farmers, captains of industry, academics, provincial departmental heads, among others.