President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja attributed Nigeria’s rising prominence as Africa’s fertilizer powerhouse to the implementation of the right policies by the present administration.
‘Nigeria is on its way to becoming Africa’s fertilizer powerhouse. And with our mega Urea production facilities, Nigeria is a global player in the Urea space,’’ the President said at an audience with the Executive Committee of Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN).
The President noted that this remarkable achievement, in a very short period, had ensured a steady flow of investments to the sector from the private sector; bringing prosperity to millions of Nigerians and good returns to the investors.
The President expressed delight that the era of a persistent shortage of fertilizer in the country was now a thing of the past, commending FEPSAN for partnering with the Government in the very patriotic backward integration project of enhancing the agricultural value chain.
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The President used the occasion to recount steps taken by his administration to limit overreliance on imports, ensure the availability of the commodity and achieve self-sufficiency in food production in the country.
‘‘When this administration came to office in 2015, our focus was on three key areas; Security, Economy, and tackling corruption.
‘‘For every nation to have peace and prosperity, its economy must be inclusive.
‘‘For Nigeria, a predominantly agrarian nation, having an inclusive economy meant we needed to prioritize the enhancement of our agricultural value chain.
‘‘We quickly identified the persistent shortage of fertilizer as a key reason for the low yields experienced on our farms.
‘‘This historical scarcity of fertilizer was due to our over-reliance on imports and the inefficient participation of the Government in distributing this essential commodity to the farmers.
‘‘As a government, it was very clear to us that these practices needed to change. Nigeria is naturally blessed with most of the raw materials needed to produce fertilizers.
‘‘Nigeria has all the skills and manpower required to convert these raw materials to fertilizers. With the right enabling environment, Nigeria has entrepreneurs who are ready to invest in the sector.
‘‘So we went to work. And as the Chairman of FEPSAN mentioned in his remarks, the rest is now history,’’ he said.
The President noted that a key indicator of the present government’s successful policies is the fact that the country had no shortages of fertilizers during the global COVID lockdowns.
‘‘Today, I am pleased to hear your assurances that we will not have any shortages in Nigeria because of the Eastern European conflicts that have impacted the global fertilizer trade. All these trends indicate our backward integration policy was the right policy.’’
Appreciating those who have invested and continue to invest in the sector, the President said:
‘‘Through these investments, you are double blessed as you are making profits and bringing prosperity to millions of Nigerians working in the agricultural value chain.’’
In his remarks, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said fertilizer remains a key input to achieving food security and in the realization of this, the apex bank has continued to place great importance on its availability and accessibility by farmers to improve yield, productivity, and ultimately, output.
Highlighting some CBN’s interventions, including the Real Sector Support Facility, Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, National Food Security Programme, and the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI), Emefiele said a total of over N114.09bn has been disbursed to support the fertilizer industry in the last five years.
He explained that the interventions were long-term loans at concessionary interest rates to support domestic blending and distribution across the country.
Given the massive funding support received by FEPSAN members from the CBN, Emefiele announced that the bank is working with majors in the industry, such as Dangote and Indorama, to ensure that they sell Urea at discounted prices to the blending plants to ensure that the prices of fertilizer are moderated in the market.
‘‘The Bank will equally work with the blending plants to ensure that the blended fertilizers are made available to end-user farmers at affordable prices,’’ he said.
In CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the CBN Governor said the Bank has disbursed N941.26bn to 4.2million smallholder farmers cultivating 21 agricultural commodities on 5.4million hectares of land across the country.
He added that for the 2021 wet season program, the CBN disbursed N193.59bn to 923,699 farmers cultivating seven commodities on 1.16 million hectares of land.
According to Emefiele, the CBN currently has a balance of stock of fertilizer from the last planting season under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to the tune of 1.95 million bags and has committed additional 2.6 million bags for use during the 2022 program.
Also speaking, FEPSAN president, Thomas Etuh thanked President Buhari for commissioning two facilities by members of the association- The Barbados blending plant in Kaduna and the Dangote Urea plant in Lagos- within two months.
‘‘Mr. President, FEPSAN’s success is not only evident by the number of factories we commission, but also by the many pyramids of rice, maize, and other crops you have been inspecting across the country.