By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, Abuja –
The federal government has saved about N55billion ($150million) from the production of locally-blended fertilizer this year.
The said amount is the whopping sum hitherto spent on foreign exchange from the N60 billion in budgetary provisions for fertilizer subsidy.
According to the presidency, the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) will deliver 4 million bags of 50kg Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) fertilizer to farmers at an affordable price before the end of the year.
Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, disclosed this at the weekend on Hannu Ya Dawa, an audience participation programme on FRCN Kaduna.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the objective of the PFI, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2016, is to procure the four constituent raw materials for Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) fertilizer – locally-sourced Urea, locally-sourced Limestone granules (LSG), Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) imported from Morocco and Muriate of Potash (MOP) sourced from Europe – and blend these locally to produce NPK Fertilizer at a much-reduced cost.
The PFI is being executed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) through a Special Purpose Vehicle that will roll out the one million tonnes of NPK Fertilizer in five batches of 200,000 metric tonnes each.
Also, the presidential aide said the 11 fertilizer blending plants in the country will be increased to 18 by the end of the year, which will in turn provide direct employment to no fewer than 50,000 Nigerians.
Shehu said the projected delivery of the commodity (4 million bags of fertilizer) by December is in addition to the six million bags of 50kg fertilizer already sold to farmers since the initiative commenced early this year.
His words: ‘‘The problem of the shortage of fertilizers and its attendant high cost plaguing the nation’s agricultural production, seemingly intractable for decades, have been resolved following the successful execution of the mandate of the PFI.
‘‘Since the implementation of the Initiative, the six million 50kg bags of NPK fertilizers were purchased by State governments and agro-dealers across the country”.
He added that the successful implementation of the PFI had made fertilizer available to Nigerian farmers at affordable prices and in time for the 2017 wet season farming.
He added that last year there were media reports “that a bag of 50kg NPK fertilizer was sold at N10, 900 in Benue State. Today the same commodity is being sold at about N6, 500 in different locations across the country, while the government-approved price is N5, 500”.
Quoting the same newspaper report, Shehu stated that a bag of maize which was sold at N21, 000 last year is currently being sold at an average of N10, 000.
‘‘This is an indication that the Initiative has enhanced food security as a result of the increase in food production. There is also a reduction in food-induced inflation, while economic activities across the agriculture value chain are very impressive”, he said.