Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Ayo Adesina
By Crusoe Osagie
Notore Chemical Industries Limited, owners of the only urea fertiliser plant in sub-Saharan Africa, weekend signed a Joint Venture agreement with Mitsubishi Corporation at Mitsubishi’s corporate headquarters in Tokyo, Japan to develop an ammonia, urea and other petrochemicals project at its existing facility at Onne, Rivers State, Nigeria.
Mitsubishi Corporation is a global integrated business enterprise that develops and operates businesses across virtually every industry including industrial finance, energy, metal, machinery, chemicals, foods and environmental business.
Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Notore, Mr. Onajite Okoloko, who signed the agreement with the Senior Vice-President, Division Chief Operating Officer, Commodity Chemicals Division B, Mitsubishi Corporation, Shinichi Nakayama, said the project would involve the construction of an integrated plant complex with production capacities of 1,700 metric tonnes per day of ammonia, 3,000 metric tonnes per day of urea, and 1,500 metric tonnes per day of other petrochemicals, respectively.
“An agreement was also signed with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Japan to carry out the pre- Front End Engineering Design (FEED) for the project. It is expected that early works (including FEED) should be concluded in the first quarter of 2013. The early works phase will be followed by 36 months of Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC). The new plant, owing to its advantage of being built on a ‘brown-field’ site with existing gas facilities and other infrastructure is expected to come on-stream by 2016. Notore commenced production of commercial quantities of ammonia in January 2010 and granular urea in April 2010 at its 300,000 metric tonnes (MT)/annum ammonia and 500,000 MT/annum urea capacity plant,” Okoloko said.
He explained that the company had achieved nameplate capacity of its factory through a refurbishment and operational excellence programme that it embarked upon, adding that a debottlenecking exercise planned for the fourth quarter of 2013 would further increase annual output to 430,000MT of ammonia and 750,000MT of urea.
“Notore’s successful penetration into the Nigerian fertiliser market was as a result of the establishment of an efficient nationwide distribution and sales network aimed at supplying fertiliser directly to Nigerian farmers. The company has also engaged previously unemployed youths in over 25 states as private extension workers through a ‘Train-the-Trainer scheme’ where selected farmers (village promoters) are educated by Notore staff about best practices in fertiliser use and application. These farmers then train other farmers in their locality,” he said.
According to him, demonstrations on best practices for fertiliser usage took place in over 2,500 locations nationwide in 2011 and the company plans to increase the number of village promoters from its current number of over 900 in 25 states to 5,000 nationwide by 2015.
"Our company made history in 2009 by breaking bulk and reducing the hitherto 50kg bags into 1kg and 10kg bags for easier accessibility and affordability to smallholder farmers who found it challenging to purchase fertiliser in 50kg bags. The success of the 1kg bag and farmer education is evident in the impact it is making at the grass-root level," Okoloko said.
"The new plant, when fully operational in 2016 will contribute significantly to providing fertilisers in Nigeria and Africa. Notore plans to push 1.75million MT of urea and 1 million MT of NPK products into the market by 2016.
“The plant will create about 1,000 direct jobs and provide 10,500 indirect jobs nationwide. Over two million farmers would have access to the fertilisers which could mean a 10-fold increase of their harvest with a rippling contribution to Nigeria’s GDP to over N300billion," he added.