By Emmanuel Afonne
The Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) has applauded the Federal Government’s total ban on the importation of all blends of Nitrogen Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) fertilisers.
In a statement made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, FEPSAN President, Mr Thomas Etuh, said the move would stop the importation of poor quality NPK fertiliser blends into the country.
Etuh said that the ban would boost local capacity and protect the soil from toxic fertilisers imported into the country by unscrupulous businessmen.
He said government had done the right thing because no economy that desired to grow would encourage the importation of what it could produce and at affordable prices.
“The only way the Federal Government can demonstrate its commitment to improve agricultural production and boost local capacity is by taking such strong purposive steps.
“The ban will position the entire agricultural value chain and allied industries to support the Nigerian economy while widening the already open opportunities for foreign exchange earnings.”
Etuh said the ban would save the country about 500 million dollars annually and create more jobs for Nigerians in the agro-allied sector.
He stressed that NPK fertiliser blended in the country were produced with specific soil composition in mind, which was not the case with most imported products which destroyed the soil and stunted the growth of crops.
“Fertiliser blending plants in Nigeria are growing and have demonstrated capacity to produce exactly what Nigerian farmers need to enrich Nigerian soil for improved food production.
“We have demonstrated this and have attestations from farmers to support this claim and when I say we have the capacity, I mean we have such capacity in quantitative and qualitative terms.
“We are aware that a lot more Nigerians are adopting agriculture as a business, especially in response to the Federal Government’s drive for food security.
“FEPSAN, in heeding the patriotic call for food security has placed itself in a position to ensure Nigerian farmers have all the best quality fertiliser they need.
“This also places us in a strong position to export to other countries in West and Central Africa, especially since we have capacity to produce more than what Nigerian farmers will need in the foreseeable future,” Etuh said.
He noted that through the combined efforts of the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund and FEPSAN, the country had been saving up to N60 billion annually in the subsidies hitherto paid for fertiliser imports.
Etuh added that farmers got the agro input round the year and at prices far lower than what was obtainable, even during the subsidy regime.
The FEPSAN boss further stated that members of the association already had an installed capacity at more than 20 blending plants spread across the country producing up to four million tons of high quality NPK fertiliser blends.
“This figure surpasses the 1.5 million tonnes, which is the highest volume ever utilised by Nigerian farmers.”