Japan's Toyota allegedly plans to set up a mega fertiliser production plant in Zambia. According to Zambia'a Ambassador to Japan Mwelwa Chibesakunda, Toyota is keen invest in agro input production in Zambia, as part of its diversifcation programme away from its traditional car manufacturing.
About three weeks ago, officials from Toyota Japan allegedly met Mr Chibesakunda and told him that they were interested in investing in Zambia’s agriculture sector by setting up the fertiliser manufacturing plant. He says the investors have already been to the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ), the country’s only local fertiliser producing firm in Kafue, to look at the facility which has been struggling financially.
Apparently they were not impressed with what they found there and indicated that the equipment NCZ was currently using was outdated. In his words : “I am not their spokesperson, but from the look of things, they will not invest in the revival of the NCZ in Kafue because the equipment is ancient. The machinery is so outdated that they may need something new".
This is one of those stories that one should treat with extreme caution. Apparently Toyota is already in talks with the Zambia Development Agency and other officials from the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry on the planned venture.
If this went through it would clearly signal the death of NCZ. GRZ in April 2012 announced that it planned to privatise the crippled Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia because it has no money to revitalise it. The then Agriculture Minister Emmanuel Chenda sad the cost of revamping was above KR1.6 billion - effectively the entire operational budget of the whole ministry.
But that decision annoyed local PF leaders who suggested it showed a "lack of vision and proper planning" and a break of campaign promises. And NCZ continues to limp on.
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013