Gbededo: Inconsistent Govt Policies Distorting Fertilizer Market

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Dike Onwuamaeze
The Group Managing Director/CEO of the Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FMN), Mr. Paul Gbededo, has stated that inconsistent government policies has continued to hinder growth of Nigeria’s fertilizer market.

He noted that that policy which imposed a subsidy regime on the fertilizer business has become a stumbling block on the structures his company had developed based on its knowledge of the market, farmer’s needs and agronomy services in the country.

The group managing director made these remarks recently while speaking during the Golden Fertilizer Customer Forum 2020 with the theme “Going the Distance … Emerging Stronger.”
The forum is a yearly event that the Golden Fertilizer Company Limited (GFCL), a subsidiary of the FMN, uses to celebrate its customers and award key partners that have contributed immensely toward the success of the company in the previous financial year.

Gbededo said the present administration and the introduction of policies such as the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), has made fertilizer a government commodity that has been controlled in a way never seen in the past 25 years.
He argued that the PFI has ensured that farmers are not guaranteed the supply of quality fertilizer at the right time and price, which has negatively affected the business volume and turnover of FMN’s distributors.

He said: “This (the PFI) has pegged the quantity of fertilizer we can deliver into the market. At the whims of the government through the PFI and NSIA we are allocated raw materials and the quantity to blend. We were back to the subsidy regime of fertilizer and controlled market.

“This challenge is likely to continue for some time. Our experience has been that farmers are never guaranteed quality fertilizer nor at the right time or price, even though the price is subsidised. It has also affected our customers in that their business volume and turnover have receded. Over the past four years, we have through our doggedness forced our way beyond government allocation to our traditional fertilizer blends even at a high cost.”

Gbededo also said the fertilizer industry is faced with the challenge of insecurity by bandits and the government’s concern around fertilizer, especially urea.
“We have worked assiduously with the NSA (National Security Adviser) and other security agencies to ensure unfettered movement of our products across the country. All these we have done at a significant cost using our best resources.

“The question we may ask ourselves is: will the Golden Fertilizer be able to emerge from all these challenges stronger? First let me admit here that it takes all hands and all minds on deck to navigate the current problems and the ones ahead.

“We have shown over the past 20 years that partnership with our stakeholders is resilient and can withstand the turbulence of the social and economic environment.
“One good thing is that despite the problems, we have kept our business and your businesses (distributors) going profitably. This is very crucial to creating wealth and keeping jobs,” he said.
He also expressed confidence that the company would prepare for the challenges ahead through innovative ideas.

“Our company has not relented. We are looking forward to expansion of our blending plants into more states outside Lagos. We have just gained more properties in northern states that will help us cater better for our customers and de-risk the concentration of our business in Lagos. This will also enhance our presence and allow for quick delivery of golden fertilizer to the end users,” he added.
The top winner of the 2020 award was Nura Makarfi, a Kaduna based businessman, who went home with a brand new Lexus 4X4 SUV.

Gbededo said the award would strengthen its relationship with the distributors and motivate them to achieve even much more in the current and coming year.
The General Manager of the GFCL, Mr. Mr. Olusegun Falade, assured farmers and dealers that the company would roll out strategies in 2021 that would effectively put an end to the adulteration and faking of its products.