Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Tuesday described agriculture as the abandoned pathway to Nigeria’s economic diversification from oil and national prosperity.
Osinbajo, who made the remark at the inauguration of the Edo State Fertiliser and Chemical Company Limited, located in Auchi, Etsako West local government area of the State, also identified the lack of access to relevant inputs by farmers as one of the major challenges hindering the full optimisation of the sector.
He stated that the 600,000 metric tonnes fertiliser plant, was a distinguished enterprise that would not only create no less than 500 direct jobs and several more indirect jobs in Auchi, but also bring the country closer to self-sufficiency in fertiliser production.
“This fertiliser plant has been recently rehabilitated as a public-private partnership. A clear objective of establishing this plant is to boost farming activities and the agric value chain nationwide. This investment is a direct response to the Federal Government’s strategy of growing the Nigerian economy on a zero oil assumption.
“Agriculture is that well-known but abandoned pathway for our economic diversification and national prosperity. The fundamental constraint to optimising agricultural is access to input – fertiliser being a fundamental input. On the average, the Nigerian farmer uses something in the order of 13kg per hectare of fertiliser, compared with the world average of 100kg per hectare,” Osinbajo explained.
He further stated that the project, which was in line with the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari, would boost food production and reduce food prices, ultimately enhancing food security in Nigeria, adding that it would make import unnecessary, as the plant will also help us Nigeria to conserve its hard-earned foreign exchange.
“This explained why Mr. President negotiated, in December, 2016, what is now referred to as the NPK fertiliser initiative, working in particular with the Moroccan president and aimed at achieving local production at one million metric tonnes of NPK fertiliser.
“It was calculated to reduce cost and deliver finished products at between N5,000 to N5,500 per bag. And this, of course, was to bring down prices which ranged from N8,000 to N9,000, sometimes, N13,000,” he said.
In his remark, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said that the project was a milestone in the history of the state, after it was left moribund for 14 years.
He stated that being the only fertiliser and chemical blending plant in the South-South and South-East Regions, farmers would no longer source fertilisers outside but access the local produced ones at affordable rates.
On his part, the Managing Director of the Company, Mr. Rau Sawara, said that 95 per cent of the workforce would come from the State.
Sawara also commended the Federal Government and the Edo State Government for encouraging investments in the agricultural sector.