President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja attributed Nigeria’s rising prominence as Africa’s fertiliser powerhouse to the implementation of the right policies by his administration.
‘‘With our over seventy blending plants operating, Nigeria is on its way to becoming Africa’s fertiliser powerhouse. And with our mega Urea production facilities, Nigeria is definitely 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 of time, 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 persistent shortage of fertiliser 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.
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 prioritise the enhancement of our agricultural value chain.
‘‘We quickly identified the persistent shortage of fertilizer as a key reason for the low yields experienced in our farms.
‘‘This historical scarcity of fertiliser 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 fertilisers.
‘‘Nigeria has all the skills and manpower required to convert these raw materials to fertilisers. With the right enabling environment, Nigeria has the 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 fertiliser remains a key input to achieving food security and in realisation 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 fertiliser 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 fertilisers are made available to end-user farmers at affordable prices,’’ he said.
On CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the CBN Governor said the Bank has disbursed N941.26bn to 4.2million smallholder famers cultivating 21 agricultural commodities on 5.4million hectares of land across the country.
He added that for the 2021 wet season programme, 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 fertiliser from the last planting season under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to the tune of 1.95 million bags and have committed additional 2.6 million bags for use during the 2022 programme.
Also speaking, FEPSAN president, Thomas Etuh thanked President Buhari for commissioning two facilities by members of the association- Barbedos 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.
‘‘Mr President, before you created the PFI Initiative in 2016, Nigeria’s fertiliser production base was almost zero. We had less than 7 companies producing at 10 per cent of their installed capacity. Nigeria’s Urea output was reported at less than 300,000 tons,’’ he said.
Citing recent data from a fertiliser working group that reviews and validates consumption data spanning over 12 years, the FEPSA president said Nigeria recorded its highest consumption of fertilisers at 1.8 million tons per annum in 2021.
He, therefore, assured Nigerians that the association is ready, willing and available to ensure that fertilisers are available in all parts of the country for the 2022 wet season.