Business

Fertiliser: Seeking partnership to revamp industry

The Federal Government has called for more private-sector collaboration in its quest to revamp the fertiliser industry and make products available and affordable to farmers. TAIWO HASSAN reports

There have been different reports from many quarters in the country’s agric industry on the key role fertiliser availability and affordability will play in this year’s planting season to ensure food security for the populace. However, the uncertainty in the country’s fertiliser industry is already a cause for concern to farmers due to scarcity and skyrocketing prices in the open market.

AFAN on fertliser challenges

To demonstrate the growing concerns in the country’s fertiliser industry, Nigerian farmers under the umbrella of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) explained that the current development was not good for agric development and food security. AFAN had petitioned the Federal Government through the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PTI) to urgently intervene in order to avoid further worsening prices of foodstuffs in the markets during this raining season. The National President of AFAN, Kabir Ibrahim, in an interview with New Telegraph, said that the timing was ripe for PFI to intervene by releasing the flagship sale of 20:10:10 at N5500, which it was sold in the last four years and N5000 last year due to COVID-19 so as to bring some respite to farmers and to the national food system. He explained that Nigeria was already experiencing skyrocketing prices of food crops, serious food inflation coupled with the skyrocketing prices of fertilisers. According to him, the scarcity and shortage of fertiliser supply and affordability of the product show that the commodity is not available in warehouses and storage facilities in the country.

Minister on PPP

However, to change the tide and revamp the country’s fertiliser industry, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, called for publicprivate sector collaboration. Nonono noted that more strategic partnership and robust collaboration with stakeholders would boost fertiliser production and develop the sector. He said efforts would be geared towards affordability, increased production, self-sufficiency and accessibility to achieve food and nutrition security.

Private sector’s roles

The minister, at a meeting during a recent working visit to Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemicals Limited (IEFCL), in Eleme, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, commended the role being played by the private sector in the industry to make fertiliser available to farmers. Nanono lauded Indorama for being a strategic partner in the development of the agricultural sector, especially in the supply of fertiliser products like NPK, UREA and DAP to farmers across the country. He said: ‘’The company is deeply embedded in the agricultural transformation agenda of President Mohammed Buhari’s administration and the nation’s economic development in general. “It went beyond the sale of urea fertiliser to extensive agronomy and agricultural extension services as well as other laudable corporate social responsibility (CSR) across the country,” Nanono added. The minister also expressed satisfaction with Indorama’s excellent working environment and further urged the company to do more as Nigeria seeks to improve the quality of lives of farmers and increase food production.

Indorama’s contribution

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Indorama, Mr. Munish Jindal, noted that the company had a vision of building Africa’s largest petrochemicals and fertiliser hub in Nigeria. This, according to Jindal, will empower Nigerian farmers by ensuring the production of quality fertiliser. AgroNigeria gathered that Nanono visited different sections of the company’s facilities, which include stateof- the-art control rooms, ammonia plants, urea plants, power plants and gagging section, among others.

Rising fertiliser

imports However, Data by the International Trade Statistics (ITS) showed that fertiliser imports increased by $37.71 million in 2019 to $247.91 million last year, representing an increase of 84.4 per cent. The breakdown of Nigeria’s fertiliser imports from Morocco was $128 million; Russia, $83.37 million; China, $17.15 million and Germany, $11 million. Curiously, it would be recalled that in 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had warned that no foreign exchange should be made available for funding fertiliser imports, noting that any company that imports the product would be sanctioned. Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemicals and Dangote Petrochemicals and Fertiliser have already invested $4.5 billion to improve and boost the country’s fertiliser industry. Dangote is expected to boost production by 2.8 million tonnes of fertiliser, while Indorama anticipated the productionof 1.4 million tonnes.

Last line

Industry stakeholders are saying that the agric minister’s move to fertiliser firms in the country was very strategic and timely as it will boost private sector confidence for improved fertiliser production.

 

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