Overuse and non-replenishment of farmland by small-scale farmers while they lack the capacity and resources for organic agriculture have constituted a barrier to the food productivity of farmers per hectare in the country.
Also, imported or most locally blended organic fertiliser brands are still relatively expensive for the resource-poor farmers. Hence, the coming into the industry by Dangote Group, it is believed, would make a big difference.
Therefore, the Federal Government has explained that Dangote Fertiliser Limited, which is ready for inauguration, is crucial to the green alternative agenda aimed at boosting food security in the country. The construction of the fertiliser plant has been fully completed and is set for commissioning in the next few months.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, said this during a facility tour of the plant in Lagos at the weekend and called on the company to play active roles in the agricultural mechanisation scheme and extension services for small-scale farmers.
Dangote’s support is needed for the success of the mechanisation scheme, which, he said, is expected to cover 632 local government areas.
“It is very clear that Dangote, in one way or the other, will help in this programme by the Federal Government,” he said.
Nanono said Aliko Dangote’s investment in fertiliser production would contribute to improved farm yields and agricultural productivity, which are critical to Nigeria’s long-term food security.
“Some of you will remember when the Federal Government initiated a policy to support local production of rice in Nigeria and discourage the importation of rice. Some vested interests kicked against it. The breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of Nigerian borders show that the Federal Government took the right decision regarding rice policy. Now, we are eating our own rice. The small-scale farmers have also been contributing to Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in rice production in the country,” he said.
Giving update on the fertiliser project, Group Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Projects & Portfolio Development, Dangote Industries Limited, Chief Devakumar Edwin, said Dangote Fertiliser has a well-equipped fertiliser soil testing laboratory to ensure the efficiency of the product for farmers.
“The laboratory will enable us to analyse and identify a particular soil deficiency. Applying the right fertiliser to the soil will enable it to yield maximum results. The goal of our soil testing is to provide an accurate assessment of the soil’s fertility to make fertiliser recommendations,” he said.
A proper soil test, he added, would help ensure the application of enough fertiliser to meet the requirements of the crop while taking advantage of the nutrients already present in the soil.
Edwin said that Dangote Fertiliser would make Nigeria become self-sufficient in fertiliser production, with the capacity to export the products to other African countries.
“Right now, farmers are forced to utilise whatever fertiliser that is available as they have no choice. But we need to know that the fertiliser that will work in one state may not be suitable in another state, as they may not have the same soil type and composition,” Edwin said.
Different crops in different zones or states also require land and zone-specific fertilizer blends, and blending fertiliser accordingly is the only way to guarantee maximum advantage of using soil replenishment in food cultivation, Edwin added.