The Federal Government in partnership with OCP Africa Fertilizer Limited has flagged-off the distribution of subsidized Fertilizers to the select vulnerable farmers in Nigeria as part of Covid-19 palliative to relieve the effect of the Pandemic on Food Security.
The ceremony was performed by Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Minister while performing the ceremony today at Karshi Market, Karshi, Abuja stated that the Federal Government’s partnership with OCP Africa is part of Mr. President’s determination to improve the local production of fertilizer in the country in order to enhance productivity and household incomes of the targeted farmers as well as contribute largely to the food security attainment of the nation in general.
Hon. Baba Shehuri stated that similar gesture will be extended to other chosen farmers across eleven (11) States in the country and will cover 50,000 farmers with 2 bags of subsidized NPK fertilizers at N4, 500.00 per 50kg bag.
The Minister also reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari’s focus on the agricultural sector stating that “you are quite aware that agricultural sector of the economy is one of the key sectors that Mr. President has accorded a lot of priority attention and enormous responsibilities to pull the country out of poverty through repositioning the sector with all the required supports’’.
He stated that ‘’ the Ministry has embarked on the expansion of the various sub-sector value chain activities in crops, livestock, fisheries and key priority sectors such as provision of quality agricultural inputs particularly fertilizers, seeds, tractors, equipment and implements, agro-chemicals etc.”.
Baba Shehuri pointed that “the Ministry is also paying attention to areas of land and climatic change management, rural infrastructures such as rural roads, water supply, some upstream and downstream activities in processing and value additions”.
The Minister further explained that “as you may be aware, as part of Mr. President’s determined effort to improve the local production of fertilizer in the country, the Federal Government entered into bilateral agreement with the King of Morocco for the supply of Di-ammonia Phosphate (DAP). As a follow up to the Agreement, the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) was set up based on the Public Private sector Partnership (PPP) arrangement”.
“The PFI arrangement has increased significantly the local production of fertilizers particularly NPKs in the country and has generated a lot of employment along the fertilizer value chain, conserved scarce foreign exchange and removed dependence on foreign supply of fertilizers, revival of over 31 moribund fertilizer blending plants” he said.
The Minister went ahead to say that ‘’OCP Africa Fertilizer Limited is a world leader in the production and exportation of phosphate based fertilizer and phosphoric acid and also a key global player in the fertilizer industry, producing 7.4 million metric tons in its production plant in Morocco. The group as I learnt has established a subsidiary OCP Africa, as a new company dedicated to transforming farming in Africa through the provisions of products and services to African farmers and making our continent an ocean of prosperity”.
He informed that “the Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR ,has put in place a National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act and Regulations to ensure that the quality of fertilizers being produced and sold to farmers in the country are done in line with the prescribed set standards in terms of quantity and quality”.
The Minister explained that ‘’ the implementing Department in the ministry– Farm Inputs Support Services (FISS) will ensure that the Act and the Regulations are fully implemented in order to safe guard the hard earned investment of the teeming farmers of this great country”.
He also emphasized that the Act has prescribed roles and responsibilities for the stakeholders in the public and private sectors in order to ensure compliance/popular participation for the smooth and effective implementation of the Act to achieve sanity in the fertilizer industry.
The Minister expressed optimism that the supply of fertilizers and other farm inputs in the right quantity and quality at the right time and place at an affordable price(s) backed with proper management practices would go a long way in increasing farmers’ productivity, enhance household incomes and by extension guarantee food security at national levels”.
He urged all the players in the fertilizer industry to prepare themselves for full implementation of the Act and the Regulation under which fertilizer operators (suppliers and distributors) are mandatorily required to register and obtain relevant operating certificates or sales permit before being allowed to operate in the country.
Mr Caleb Usoh, the Deputy Managing Director/ Country Manager OCP Africa Fertilizer Limited, said that ” through the 31 outlets spread across several states in the country, OCP Africa would by way of palliatives provide support to 50,000 smallholder farmers by ensuring distribution and access to buy the Presidential Fertilizer Initiatives’ NPK 20:10:10 at a subsidized retail price of N4,500/bag”.
Usoh stated that OCP Africa would undertake to bear the cost of transport logistics, warehousing and distribution of these inputs to targeted farmers, adding that a total of 50 million naira worth of subsidies will be given as palliatives during the COVID-19 pandemic season.
He informed that “the organization is undertaking to train 50,000 smallholder farmers on Good Agricultural Practices specific to crops and value chains localized to specific regions. To implement this, OCP Africa has engaged qualified Training facilitators as well as recruited, equipped and engaged over 90 Extension Service Agents (Agripromoters) to support training and extension. OCP Nigeria has also purchased over 60 Motorcycles to aid mobility, 25 Cargo Tricycles to aid redistribution and 100 Electronic Tablets to aid data gathering and learning for the recruited extension agents”.
Engr. Tunde Bello, Director, Department of Farms Inputs Support Services, while giving the vote of thanks, appreciated the Federal Government, OCP Africa and other Development Partners for being part of the Programme and initiating the support services given to farmers at this crucial time.
The States to benefit from the OCP Africa fertilizer palliative intervention are Abia , Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi,Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Sokoto, Bauchi and Kwara.