In a bid to ensure that the interest of farmers and the entire fertilizer value chain players, including the manufacturers, producers, blenders, importers, and distributors are safeguarded and protected, the Federal Government has enacted the Fertilizer Act into law.
Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, explained that the Act would provide the enabling environment needed for fertilizer enterprises to grow as well as protect investments in the sector.
“As you may be aware, the journey for the establishment of Fertilizer Regulatory System for this country started as far back as 2002, passed through several processes and suffered many defeats but finally actualised in this current administration”.
“For the farmers, they are to be protected against access to nutrient-deficient and adulterated fertilizers as well as short-weight bags of fertilizers. This is to ensure that farmers get value for every kobo spent on buying fertilizers for the farming”, he said.
Nanono noted that ensuring supply of fertilizers and other farm inputs in the right quantity, quality, as at when due and at an affordable price would go a long way in increasing farmers productivity, enhance household incomes and by extension guarantee food security at national levels.
“Proper documentation and licensing of all players in the value chain, deployment and retraining of fertilizer control inspectors would be incorporated to ensure that the fertilizers being produced, distributed and sold to farmers across the country meet the required set standards in terms of quantity and quality.”
“With the law in place now, individuals and corporate entities involved in fertilizer business are expected to be friends so that unnecessary litigations and conflicts would be avoided. Remember the law maxim that Law is made for man and not Man for the law,” he added.
Yemi Akinseye-George, Legal practitioner and Consultant, at the presentation of the National Fertilizer Act, said that the dangers inherent in liberalising the Fertilizer industry cannot be over emphasised as it exposes farmers to cases of adulterated fertilizer leading to poor yield.
“Without legal and regulatory framework, we see people that lack of adequate skills and as a result, we have more people selling and distributing products they know nothing about, and cannot provide advice when needed,” he said.
He said that the Act has widened access to court by extending jurisdiction to all high courts and magistrate court across the country, adding that the inclusion of the restoration justice measures to protect the interest of victims including lands and community.
“The bill authorises the minister of agriculture to make regulations to domesticate the ECOWAS quality control regulation as well as the World Bank EBA indicator”.
Abdulkadir Mu’azu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, said that promoting a sustainable regulatory system is critical to the development of the fertilizer industry and the Agriculture sector in general.
Mu’azu noted that the agricultural sector which currently employs over 70 percent of the nation’s active population as well contributes a great deal to nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remains critical to the diversification agenda of the Buhari’s administration.
“Agriculture sector has been in the frontier to diversify the economy; the sector also holds the key to job creation and poverty alleviation in the country”.
“Promoting this Act is key to us as a country, because fertilizer is crucial in crop production and ensuring its proper use will further increase our agricultural yield,” he noted.
The Act which aims at safeguarding the interest of farmers and all players on the agricultural value chain provides for the fertilizer regulatory system which includes inspection, sampling and analysis, registration requirements and labeling.
As enshrined in the 2019 National Fertilizer Act, it announced a 5-year jail term for offenders.
According to the Act, “Any person who manufactures, blends, imports or exports, sells adulterated fertilizer is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of at least five years without option of fine.
“A person shall not sell any fertilizer or fertilizer supplement that contains destructive ingredients or properties harmful to plant growth”.
The Act further provides that: “A person shall not operate or carry on business as a manufacturer, Blender, importer or distributor of fertilizer in Nigeria with an expired permit or certificate of registration”.