Zimbabwe Receives Free Fertiliser from Russia Amid Grain Shortages

The donation is expected to boost the country’s food security and agricultural production, which have been affected by drought, cyclones, and economic challenges.

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe has received a shipment of free fertilizer from Russia, which had been stuck in Europe for months due to sanctions imposed on Moscow. The donation is expected to boost the country’s food security and agricultural production, which have been affected by drought, cyclones, and economic challenges.

The fertilizer, worth about $50 million, was donated by Russian company Uralchem as part of a humanitarian assistance program. It consists of 60,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, enough to cover Zimbabwe’s annual fertilizer needs.

The fertilizer had been stranded in Europe since July, when the European Union (EU) banned the export of fertilizer from Russia, along with other agricultural products, in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. The EU accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and supporting separatist rebels in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia denied the allegations and imposed counter-sanctions on the EU, banning the import of food products from the bloc. The trade war between the two sides has disrupted global supply chains and caused price hikes for consumers and farmers.

Zimbabwe, which has maintained friendly relations with Russia, was one of the few countries that voted against a UN resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Zimbabwe also supported Russia’s bid to join the African Union as an observer member in 2023.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Russia, Mike Nicholas Sango, said the fertilizer donation was a gesture of goodwill and solidarity from Russia, which recognized Zimbabwe’s economic difficulties and food insecurity. He said the fertilizer would help Zimbabwe achieve its target of producing 2.5 million tonnes of maize in the 2023/2024 cropping season, up from 1.8 million tonnes in the previous season.

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister, Anxious Masuka, said the fertilizer would be distributed to farmers through the government’s input support scheme, which subsidizes seeds, fertilizer, and chemicals for small-scale and communal farmers. He said the fertilizer would also benefit the livestock sector, which relies on maize as animal feed.

Zimbabwe has been facing chronic food shortages for years, due to recurrent droughts, cyclones, pests, and diseases, as well as economic mismanagement, corruption, and sanctions. According to the World Food Programme, about 3.4 million people in rural areas and 2.2 million people in urban areas are food insecure and require humanitarian assistance.

The fertilizer donation from Russia is not the first of its kind. In 2023, Russia also donated 10,000 tonnes of wheat to Zimbabwe, which helped to ease bread shortages and lower prices. Russia has also been investing in Zimbabwe’s mining, energy, and defense sectors, as part of its efforts to expand its influence and presence in Africa.

Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power in 2017 after a military coup that ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, has been seeking to re-engage with the international community and attract foreign investment. He has also been pursuing a policy of “Look East”, which prioritizes relations with countries such as China, Russia, India, and Turkey, over those with the West.

Zimbabwe’s opposition and civil society groups have criticized Mnangagwa’s government for failing to implement political and economic reforms, and for violating human rights and democratic principles. They have also accused the government of using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to clamp down on dissent and restrict freedoms.

However, Mnangagwa has vowed to continue with his reform agenda and to improve the lives of Zimbabweans. He has also expressed optimism that the country will overcome its challenges and achieve its vision of becoming an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.

Source: News24

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