The Federal Government has issued a fresh warning to illegal fertiliser producers, importers and dealers to desist from the practice or risk being jailed. TAIWO HASSAN reports
With the impact of COVID- 19 negatively affecting the country’s economic space, the present administration, as a way to retune the economy has identified agriculture as its priority. With this, government has reiterated that it is committed towards attaining self-sufficiency in production of fertiliser post- COVID-19 to ensure food security in the country. Speaking on the country’s fertiliser production project, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, explained that plans were already in place to beef up fertilizer production, particularly with the country’s 33 blending plants currently producing five million tons. He assured that Nigeria would soon meet the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommended seven million tons required for optimum agricultural production with the way it is intensifying fertiliser blending plants across the country. Nanono was optimistic that the country would shortly be able to internalise fertiliser availability for farmers, adding that they would properly utilise the 34 million hectares of cultivable land.
Fertiliser price reduction
Following the impact of COVID- 19 on agriculture, the Federal Government is set to be proactive by announcing reduction in price of NPK fertiliser from N5,500 to N5,000 per 50kg bag for local farmers in order to boost food production. In tandem with its responsibility to empower more farmers and further boost food production, the Federal Government announced the slash. Making the announcement on behalf of government recently was Governor Muhamad Badaru of Jigawa State, who is the Chairman, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI). Badaru told journalists in Dutse, the capital of Jigawa State, that the gesture was part of palliatives introduced by the Federal Government to cushion the effect of COVID-19.
Following the proactive moves by the present administration to pursue self-sufficiency in food production by making fertilizer available, some saboteurs are already engaging in fertiliser business illegally in order to take advantage of government’s commitment. Following this illicit act, government has issued a stern warning to illegal fertiliser producers, blenders, importers and dealers to desist from the practice or risk being jailed. The warning was contained in a video published recently by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) on its verified Twitter handle for the public. The video, published alongside Yoruba, Hausa and Pidgin English variations, was titled “FG moves to clamp down on illegal fertiliser producers/manufacturers, blenders, importers, and agro-dealers. FMARD in the video said it sought to inform the general public about Nigeria’s new fertilizer law, the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019. “This law is to make sure that every farmer has good and efficient fertiliser for their farms. It is forbidden for anyone to go into fertilizer business in Nigeria without registering with the farm inputs support services department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. “If you adulterate or sell adulterated fertilizer to farmers and you are caught, you will be jailed,” the ministry warned in the video.
In March, Nanono launched the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 during a public presentation in Abuja. Nanono during the presentation had noted that the legal document served to “safeguard and protect the interest of the entire fertilizer value chain players.” These players include manufactures, producers, blenders, importers, distributors and the end-user farmers in Nigeria. Nanono also explained that the document would help to reposition Nigeria’s economy from oil and gas to agribusiness. However, sub-standard fertilizer distribution has continued to be one of the major problems of farming in the country.
The minister recently made an assurance that the country was already self-sufficient in agriculture, saying that in as much as fertiliser importation and other agric commodities would be adversely affected by the pandemic, there is still enough supply of locally produced fertilisers and others in the country to complement farming. The agric minister specifically stated that the administration was very committed to curbing reliance on importation of essential agric commodities. He assured that COVID-19 won’t affect food production and supply.
Despite Federal Government’s move to checkmate fertiliser production adulteration in the country, Nigerian farmers are still panicking that fake fertilizers already circulating across the country would have negative impact on food production in this year’s planting season.