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Seized Russian fertiliser consignment finally arrives

by Staff reporter
25 Feb 2024 at 07:11hrs | Views
ABOUT 10 000 tonnes of fertiliser, which are part of the 26 000-tonne consignment from Uralchem Group, a leading Russian agrochemical producer, have arrived in Zimbabwe.

Uralchem pledged close to 300 000 tonnes of fertiliser to various developing countries in 2022 to combat the global food crisis that was triggered by the conflict in Eastern Europe.

Zimbabwe, alongside Malawi, Nigeria and Kenya, was among the African countries to benefit from the initiative.

Following successful deliveries to Malawi (20 000 tonnes) and Kenya (34 000 tonnes) early last year, Zimbabwe's first shipment arrived via the Port of Beira in Mozambique in January on a vessel chartered by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The remaining portion of the 26 000 tonnes is in transit and expected to arrive soon.

Delivery of Zimbabwe's share was initially blocked by the European Union (EU) as part of the bloc's blockade on Russia's agricultural exports, which was effected in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

As a result of the blockade, Zimbabwe's fertiliser was held at European ports for months.

The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia, prohibiting the export of a wide range of goods, including fertiliser, arguing that the country was using the shipments to finance its war effort.

The bloc believes blocking the exports will pressure Moscow into ending its special military operation in Ukraine.

However, following lengthy negotiations with the WFP, European authorities eventually relented and agreed to release the fertiliser, some of which will go to Nigeria.

The EU, however, continues to hold on to more than 100 000 tonnes of Uralchem's fertilisers that have been donated to other developing countries.

Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Vangelis Haritatos confirmed the latest development.

Speaking after inspecting another consignment of wheat donated to Zimbabwe by Russia on Friday, he said the fertiliser would go towards supporting the Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme.

"In the morning, I was in Bindura inspecting the MOP (muriate of potassium) that was donated (by Russia)," he said.

"Basically, they donated 16 000 tonnes of MOP, which is a raw material that goes into making the fertiliser compound.

"They also donated tonnes of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) that has a similar formulation as CAN (calcium ammonium nitrate), which is a top-dressing fertiliser. Both consignments are currently coming into the country."

Zimbabwe, he said, has since received 4 000 tonnes of MOP and 6 000 tonnes of NPK.

"So, both of these consignments, which came on another ship, are work in progress," he said.

"We are receiving them now into Bindura, as well as into Mutare and other depots surrounding Mutare.

"Those are specifically to go into the Presidential Inputs Programme, which is an amazing programme that has brought us the food security that we have realised in the past few seasons."

Responding to questions from The Sunday Mail, Uralchem head of special public relations projects Emin Bayramov said the company had committed to "donating approximately 300 000 tonnes of fertilisers to developing countries to alleviate the unprecedented global food crisis".

The initiative, he said, seeks to support efforts to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.

"The shipment for Zimbabwe, comprising potash and NPK fertilisers, is the latest of the group's five humanitarian consignments sent to African nations," he said.

"Since late 2022, Uralchem Group has donated over 134 000 tonnes of fertilisers to the African continent.

"Agriculture is one of the key pillars of the Zimbabwean economy and we are pleased to contribute to the development of the country's food production capacity and the well-being of its people."

He said the vessel carrying Zimbabwe's fertiliser reached the port of Beira in January, before being fully offloaded by mid-February.

"The shipment for Zimbabwe has been facilitated by the United Nations World Food Programme, which chartered a vessel to transport the consignment from Europe.

"Uralchem Group, in turn, has covered the sea freight and other delivery costs."

He added: "Despite the food and fertilisers being officially exempt from international sanctions placed on Russia, over 260 000 tonnes of Uralchem Group's fertilisers were essentially blocked in the EU in early 2022.

"Over 111 000 tonnes from this amount were donated to African nations and already left Europe.

"However, the remaining 150 000 tonnes are still stranded in the EU."

Uralchem Group's humanitarian initiatives, he continued, were beyond politics.

"As a major global producer and exporter of mineral fertilisers, and a company with a bold mission to help eradicate hunger, Uralchem Group does whatever it can to secure stable food supply in those parts of the planet that face food shortages."

Source - The Sunday Mail