ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe has suspended duty on fertilizer imports allowing approved and regulated traders to bring in fertilizer duty-free to ensure adequate supplies locally.

In a notice in an extraordinary Government Gazette published on October 11, the Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Investment Promotion, Professor Mthuli Ncube, suspended the duty on fertilizer for approved importers.

This is in accordance with the terms of section 235 as read with section 120 of the Customs and Excise Act for 12 months

According to the state, the move aims to prepare farmers for the coming summer cropping season with pricing formulas approved in advance of any duty-free license.

The new regulations update the 2003 fertilizer duty regulations and stress the need for not just approval of the importers but also for their regulation, which means that the Government has to approve pricing formulas.

Prof Ncube said the Minister responsible for Agriculture had to approve a list of reputable fertilizer importers for the purposes of these regulations and license the importers so they could then deal with Zimra.

He also warned that those who import duty-free fertilizer but sell it at a higher price than that agreed when they were licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture will have to pay the full duty plus penalties.

Making the conditions explicit, Prof Ncube said: “The Commissioner (of Zimra) shall not grant suspension of duty to an approved fertilizer importer where the importer does not have a license issued by the Ministry responsible for Agriculture.”

The Ministry responsible for Agriculture shall ensure that approved fertilizer importers adhere to responsible pricing of fertilizers for which the Commissioner would have wholly suspended duty payable.

Notwithstanding the quantities specified in the Schedule, approved importers shall be allowed to exhaust the ring-fenced allocations specified in Statutory Instrument 31 of 2023,” read the notice.

Recently, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development’s report on the country’s state of preparedness for the 2023/24 season unequivocally indicated that this year’s focus was on increased productivity with the target areas for the major crops meant to grow 10%.

Farmers have, however, expressed concern over input prices that they say are pushing the cost of production high eroding their potential profits in the process.