Windmill is a privately owned company which until 1970 was a wholly owned subsidiary of Windmill Holland, a company that dates back to the 1920s. The Zimbabwe company was originally set up in 1947 though production of granulated fertilizer began in earnest in 1960 using a dry mixing and steam granulation process whereby imported powdered raw materials were mixed and granulated into a variety of compound fertilisers for the local market.
Since its inauguration the plant has been subject to many modifications. A few years after it was commissioned, an automatic mixing plant was added to the production chain, and further modifications improved the drying and cooling sections of the installation. In the early 1970s, ammonium nitrate production began in Kwekwe. Subsequently, Windmill built storage and handling facilities which allowed ammonium nitrate to be used as a raw material in granulation.
In 1970 Windmill Holland sold, 80 percent of its equity to organised agriculture in Zimbabwe. Consequently, the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, the Zimbabwe Cotton Growers’ Association, the Zimbabwe Grain Producers’ Association and the Farmers’ Co-op Limited became shareholders. Windmill Holland retained its 20 percent shareholding until 1986 when it passed it on to Norsk Hydro, which handled the company’s export business. Further shareholder changes have seen the company now becoming 100% Zimbabwean owned.
The company’s offices are at Westgate on the north western boundary of Harare. Its assets include two fertiliser manufacturing plants, bulk handling and bagging facilities and a crop chemical formulation plant as well as an animal health stockfeed plant, all in or close to Harare. Over time, the increasing demand for the company’s products demanded additional production facilities. Consequently, in 1996 a Bulk Blending Plant was built at the company’s St Marnocks factory in Mount Hampden. This plant, built entirely from local materials and with local expertise, is capable of producing, bagging and loading product at a rate of 30 mt/hr. Blending and bagging operations are fully mechanised. Using imported and locally produced granular raw materials, the plant can produce a variety of blended NPK fertilisers, some of which are custom made to meet consumer needs.
There are basically two production facilities – one a granulation plant producing 150,000 tons a year of chemical compounds – the other a blending plant that produces around the same amount of blended fertilisers”. This is very important as it gives the company the ability to provide its local and export farmers with an unlimited range of fertiliser types and options which many other fertiliser producers are not able to offer as they only run blending plants.