James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has demanded a high level of commitment and cooperation from the fertiliser value chain operators in order to sanitise the system.
He said farmers needed to be properly guided on the use of fertilisers through public awareness creation and continuous sensitisation of the public on the new fertilizer regulatory system.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day workshop for fertilizer operators on the operationalisation of the National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act and the Fertilizer Regulations, in Nasarawa State, the minister said the new fertiliser regime system would eliminate the rampant cases of fertilizer sharp practices across the country.
He said new regulations will further address nutrient deficiencies, adulteration, misleading claims and short weighting, adding that the Act would protect the investments of manufacturers, blenders or distributors as well as other service providers along the fertilizer value chain.
Nanono said the primary objective of the fertilizer regulatory system was to increase agricultural productivity towards national food security which can only be achieved through the provision of quality fertilizers and other key farm inputs.
In order to ensure smooth implementation of the fertilizer Act, the ministry along with other stakeholders had developed fertilizer regulations and forwarded same to the Federal Ministry of Justice for review by legal draftsmen.
The minister emphasised that stipulated in the Act, operators are henceforth required to obtain certificate of registration or sales permits upon payment of some prescribed fees/charges before being allowed to operate any fertilizer business in the country.
The minister noted that in determining the fees, wide consultations with stakeholders were made adding that a lot of factors put into consideration to reduce costs burden to the farmers.
He said the charges were the least when compared to what is obtainable in other related sub-sector agencies within the country and the ECOWAS Sub-region.
Nanono pointed out that the workshop was further aimed at acquainting stakeholders on the workings of the Act and the regulations towards its implementation process.
He expressed to President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring the actualisation of the national fertilizer law, adding that it is a demonstration of his commitment and determination to repositioning the agricultural sector to assume its’ rightful place in national economy through the provision of foods for the entire citizens and raw materials for numerous agro-allied industries.
The minister had earlier in March, flagged-off the implementation of the NFQC Act which was accomplished after over 25 years of fruitless efforts.
The legislation included severe punitive clauses for defaulters.
He added that the ministry had developed a portal which is ready for online registration of all fertilizer dealers.
Ministry officials however told THISDAY that the implementation of a successful and effective fertilizer law required the full participation of the fertilizer industry players.
They said the interest of the ministry was not to watch individuals violate the law and pay penalties but to ensure maximum compliance in order to grow the local fertilizer industry and the agricultural sector.