By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA —The Presidency last night announced that it has flagged off the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, with the production of more than 4,000 metric tonnes of locally-blended fertilizer in the first week of operation.
Recall that the initiative was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2016, to achieve the local production of one million metric tonnes of blended Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) Fertilizer for the 2017 wet season farming.
A statement signed by Mr. Laolu Akande, the media aide to Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo stated: “Prior to December 2016, Nigeria’s stock of blended Fertilizer was shipped into the country as fully-finished products, even though Urea and Limestone, which constitute roughly two-thirds of the component of each bag, are available locally.
“The objective of the Presidential Initiative is to procure the 4 constituent raw materials for NPK Fertilizer – locally-sourced Urea, locally-sourced Limestone granules (LSG), Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) imported from Morocco, and Muriate of Potash (MOP) sourced from Europe – and blend these locally to produce NPK Fertilizer at a much reduced cost.
“The finished products will be delivered to Nigeria’s farmers at a starting price of about N5,500 per bag, compared to the N8,000, – N9,000 cost of imported fertilizer.”
The statement is also hopeful that Presidential Fertilizer Initiative would “stimulate local production of NPK fertilizer by resuscitating moribund fertilizer plants, and reviving the local blending fertilizer industry.
‘’It will also make fertilizer available to Nigerian farmers at affordable prices and in time for the 2017 wet season farming; result in projected savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and ¦ 60 billion in budgetary provisions for fertilizer subsidy; enhance food security as a result of the expected increase in food production.
‘’It will equally reduce food-induced inflation and stimulation of economic activities across the agriculture value chain and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.”
Meanwhile, the Initiative is executed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) through a Special Purpose Vehicle that would roll out the one million tonnes of NPK fertilizer in 5 batches of 200,000 metric tonnes each.
“Beyond the broader goal of ensuring food security for the country by providing high-grade fertilizer to enhance harvest in the 2017 farming season, the Buhari administration is by this initiative, reinforcing its commitment to reviving and diversifying the economy, and creating growth, through focus on agriculture,” the statement said.