As the planting season commences, the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative has kicked off across the country, to provide farmers with fertilizers at affordable rate. A bag is expected to be sold at N5, 500, as against the initial price of N10, 000.
This development is the fallout of an agreement signed in December 2016 between the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) and the OCP of Morroco for the importation of Phosphorus, one of the key ingredients for the production of fertilizer.
The main target of the initiative was to produce one million mt of fertilizer for wet season farming and 500,000mt for Dry season, and also eliminate fertilizer subsidy, thereby saving government up to N60b in terms of budgetary provision for subsidy in the 2017 budget.
President of the association, Thomas Etuh, during a monitoring tour of the select blending plants in Kaduna and Kano States, disclosed that the Sovereign Wealth Fund has provided N20b for the programme, adding that it was designed to run in five phases, in which 200,000mt of the product is expected to be blended in each phase.
Etuh said 11 blending plants were selected to participate in the first phase, noting that production has started in not less than six blending plants while others are under maintenance and would join before the end of April.
To achieve this, farmers were urged to call the whistle blowing number 0909-806-7946 boldly written on the bag of fertilizer and also report agro dealers seen transporting the product out of the country.
Etuh explained that membership of the association is one of the criteria for selection of the plants. “We also have a technical committee that looks at the plant if it’s fit enough for production, to know if you meet the criteria and post a performance bond, which guarantees that our goods are safe.
“FEPSAN provides the raw material and the money for production, as the money was sourced as an association at nine per cent interest rate working partnership with the sovereign wealth fund who are funding the project.
“The Al-Yuma Fertilizer Company in Kano got N2b, of 90 per cent raw materials and 10 per cent cash as production cost. The fertilizer companies are blending for FEPSAN and we pay them the overhead cost. The first batch of the fund is N20b, we recycle the money, when we sell we move to the second batch,” Etuh said.
On the need to accommodate small plant owners in the programme, he said minimum requirement is 50,000mt capacity plant, from which 4000mt of fertilizer are expected to be produced within a month with which a minimum of 100 trailers would be loading.
According to him, the bill being pushed at the National Assembly is to monitor quality and keep standard, noting that the bill has scaled first reading as at last year.
While noting that the initiative is a Public Private Partnership arrangement, managed by the Sovereign Wealth Fund, he claimed the programme has being designed in such a way that is sustainable.
“The plan is to have five batches in all to produce 200,000mt in each batch, once payment is made we move to other batch until we achieve the target of one million mt. The Aluma Fertilizer plant works 24/7 and create jobs. Before this programme, the plant has not worked since 2005, it started production last year.
“The plant has a capacity of 500,000mt but would be participating in this programme to produce 300,000mt to cover most of the states in the North West and the North East. The distribution is not restricted to north; it can deliver to any part of the country, as long as it is economical for them to transport.
“We will be going to South, there are only one plant in the South West, which is in Lagos and it is owned by the Flour Mill Group, while in the South East there is only one plant in Ebonyi, Abakaliki. The two major plants delivering the raw materials for us are based in Port Harcourt, Indorama and Notore in Onne. The company providing limestone is in Opella, Edo State.
The Managing Director of Al-yuma fertilizer company, Ado Yesid Ibrahim, said the programme is structured in such a way that FEPSAN gets their money before any trailer leaves the company, and the farmers get it at N5, 500 without government subsidy.He lamented that one of the main concerns of farmers is the market supply.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the Agro Dealers Association of Nigeria, Ibrahim Mafara has called on the federal government to provide adequate logistics for the transportation of the product from the blending plant to the point of sale to farmers.
According to him, because of the uneven distribution of the blending plants, they may not be able to buy what FEPSAN is producing at N5, 000 and distribute to every part of the country at N5, 500.