By Betty Amihere,
Northern Regional Editor
Despite government efforts at reducing the cost and improving accessibility of fertilizer to farmers, stakeholders in the agricultural sector have continued to bemoan the high cost of the commodity lamenting that a bag still goes for as high as N10,000.
Recall that in 2016, the presidential Fertiliser initiative was birthed to ease the bottlenecks on the purchase of fertilizer and make it readily available, accessible and affordable.
It was flagged off in February 2017as approved by President Muhammad Buhari to achieve the local production of one million metric tonnes of blended NPK fertilizer which will be produced, packaged and sold to the Nigerian farmer at starting price of about N5,500 compared to the N8,000- N9,000 cost of imported fertilizer.
Speaking at the sidelines of the recently concluded 2019 Agriculture summit organized by Sterling Bank Plc. in partnership with the World Bank and other partners, the founder, Women Farmers Advancement Network WOFAN, Salamatu Garba blamed the high cost of the fertilizer on off takers who mop all fertilizers from the marktet and sell to the farmers at a high rate to make gain.
She said, “everyone knows fertilizer is not sold at 5,500 because someone like an off taker is also there that mops the market . We need a system where there will be a scratch card. Like that a farmer can walk to a hub and kano state is trying to do that because I have tried to see what they are doing .
” They are blending fertilizer in Kano and a farmer can go in to any of the 44 LGA KASCO plant and buy fertilizer . That I commend them for but it has not gotten to the other parts of the country. As a result of that, they still need to carry it to the rural parts of the country that are hard to reach and they pay extra for transportation to take it there.
“So who on earth is going to put so much on transportation to carry a product and pay staff and now sell it to people at the same price that he has bought?”
Continuing, she advised that “before government can come out and shout that fertilizer to the retailer is 5,500, we must have provided the enabling environment that will allow the person that is selling, that is the dealer or distributor to buy it at a cheaper rate”
Also speaking, the Vice President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN and National President,Potatoes Farmers Association of Nigeria, Chief Daniel Okafor lamented that the supposed pegged price of N5,500 by the federal government has never been a reality but a complete fraud saying that for ” some years now, we have been buying fertilizer for N10,000 per bag.
“Last year, I went to the authorities and asked them how we could get Fertilizer because we are buying fertilizer for N10,000 per bag in the market” .