Wonderful Group of Companies has exclusively revealed to the Zambian Business Times – ZBT that they have reached an advanced stage in setting up a US$300 million local fertilizer manufacturing plant in Zambia to be called United Capital Fertilizer Zambia Company Limited.
The group intends to build a large fertilizer plant that will cut the importation of fertilizer for Zambia by about 60% and reduce the cost of fertilizer by about 40% due to use of local raw materials and economies of scale.
Company Board Chairman Roy Mwamba told ZBT that said once the plant is operational, the company would be able to supply 80% of the total percentage of urea demand and 60% of the total percentage of D compound required for the country.
Mwamba said all the raw materials, which include coal and phosphate, would be acquired locally in Southern Province and once operational, the plant will create about 1,100 direct jobs.
Mwamba further stated that 60% of the investment funds are being sourced from financial institutions outside Zambia with 40% being sourced locally, adding that US$ 20 million from the US$ 300 million is working capital for the first two years as per draft cash flows.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with ZBT, Mwamba said the fertilizer manufacturing company would have a production capacity of 135, 000 metric tonnes per annum for fertilizer and 80,000 metric tonnes per annum for ammonia bicarbonate.
He said the company would have a robust and state of the art integrated cross-circuit production process such that there will be no emission of either smoke or gasses adding that the smoke will be converted into a gas by-product, for which the company already has a captive market.
He noted that the gas produced in the production process and other by-products that come out of the production of ammonia bicarbonate can be used in the production of fire extinguishers and baking powder.
He mentioned that the treasury spends about K4 billion on the importation of fertiliser for the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) annually, which is drain on forex, therefore the urgent need for a fertilizer manufacturing plant to be set up in the country in order to substitute for the imports and avoid price escalations.
Mwamba stated that apart from reducing the prices of fertilizer, the manufacturing plant would also enhance agriculture activities, which is what the country currently needs noting that the company would be producing ammonia that would be supplied to Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ), and these raw materials are currently imported.
He further said that currently, every fertilizer manufacturing company in Zambia imports raw materials, mostly from South Africa. The new plant would be producing ammonia as a by-product, therefore there will be no need to continue importing from South Africa, thus boosting the production for local companies such as NCZ.
Zambia has been importing its bulk fertilizer to meet its growing land under cultivation. However, prices of the essential commodity had escalated following the depreciation of the local currency – the Kwacha, contributing to making food prices unaffordable for a good section of citizens.