By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Nigeria and Morocco have signed an agreement that will ensure the production of one million tons of fertlizer locally next year.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said the agreement was anchored by the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) and a Moroccan company, OCP.
Shehu said this would be a short term solution that “will, by a signed agreement also force the price of fertilizer from N8,000 to as low of about N5,000.”
In a memorandum of understanding also signed during the visit of King Mohammed VI of Morocco to Nigeria by Mr. Thomas Etuh, President of FEPSAN and Dr. Mostafa Terrab, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the OCP Group, FEPSAN and OCP, will come together to promote innovation in an effort to contribute towards productivity-led agricultural growth and improve farmer livelihood.
OCP, a majority state-owned company of Morocco, is a world leader in phosphate and its derivatives, committed to the development of agriculture in Africa.
The agreement also seeks to promote the use of agricultural inputs including access to adequate fertilizers as a major lever for improving agricultural productivity and farmers’ income.
The federal government of Nigeria had set up the National Fertilizer Technical Committee under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to put the country on the path of sustainable production of quality fertilizer for both local consumption and export.
The statement said the Nigerian fertilizer industry possessed a blending capacity of 4 million tons of NPK annually and 2 million tons of production capacity for Urea with ability to employ over 250,000 people in both direct and indirect jobs across the country.
The statement said: “But with less than 10 percent of these production capacities currently being utilised, the federal government put in place the atmosphere for getting this memorandum of understanding in place.”
The statement identified areas of collaboration to include: securing a supply of quality fertilizers by bringing in raw materials required for the production of the item in line with the crops and soils adaptable to Nigeria, for which the information will be supplied by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture; strengthening blending capabilities by leveraging on technical know-how and engineering capabilities; stimulating product innovation and development through the deployment of the Moroccan expertise in producing scientifically recommended formulae adaptable to the needs of the Nigerian soil.
Other areas include: strengthening capacity to ensure a timely supply of quality fertilizers in adequate quantities and in a cost –effective manner to rural areas as well as an efficient supply chain and improvement of logistics management, including warehousing and transportation services; and strengthening the agricultural extension services system.
Availability of fertilizer has been a major hindrance to farmers in their quest to embark on small, medium and large scale agricultural revolution, an issue that the present administration is committed to making a thing of the past.
President Muhammadu Buhari had stated the determination of his administration towards ensuring that food importation in Nigeria ceased by the year 2019.