Presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, has said that the agreement between the governments of Nigeria and Morocco, anchored by Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) and a Moroccan company, OCP, will yield one million tonnes of fertiliser through local production in 2017.
Shehu, who stated this in a statement issued in Abuja, on Sunday, expressed the hope that this would be a short term solution that will force the price of fertiliser from N8,000 to as low as N5,000.
“In a Memorandum of Understanding also signed during the visit of King Mohammed VI of Morocco to Nigeria by Mr Thomas Etuh, President of FEPSAN and Dr Mostafa Terrab, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the OCP Group, FEPSAN and OCP, will come together to promote innovation in an effort to contribute towards productivity-led agricultural growth and improve farmer livelihood,” he added.
OCP, a majority state-owned company of Morocco is a world leader in phosphate and its derivatives, committed to the development of agriculture in Africa.
According to him, the agreement also seeks to promote the use of agricultural inputs including access to adequate fertilizers as a major lever for improving agricultural productivity and farmers’ income.
Shehu recalled that the Federal Government had set up the National Fertilizer Technical Committee under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to put the country on the path of sustainable production of quality fertilizer for both local consumption and export.
According to the Presidential aide, President Buhari is aware that the Nigerian fertilizer industry possesses a blending capacity of four million tonnes of NPK annually and two million tonnes of production capacity for Urea with ability to employ over 250,000 people in both direct and indirect jobs across the country.
“But with less than 10 per cent of these production capacities currently being utilized, the Federal Government put in place the atmosphere for getting this Memorandum of Understanding in place.
“The specific areas of collaboration include: securing a supply of quality fertilizers by bringing in raw materials required for the production of the item in line with the crops and soils adaptable to Nigeria, for which the information will be supplied by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
“Strengthening blending capabilities by leveraging on technical know-how and engineering capabilities; Stimulating product innovation and development through the deployment of the Moroccan expertise in producing scientifically recommended formulae adaptable to the needs of the Nigerian soil.
“Strengthening capacity to ensure a timely supply of quality fertilizers in adequate quantities and in a cost –effective manner to rural areas as well as an efficient supply chain and improvement of logistics management, including warehousing and transportation services; and strengthening the agricultural extension services system.”
He identified inadequate supply of fertilizer as a major hindrance to farmers in their quest to embark on small, medium and large scale agricultural revolution, saying that “this is an issue that the present administration is committed to making a thing of the past”.
He noted that President Buhari had repeatedly stated the determination of his administration towards ensuring that “food importation in Nigeria ceases by the year 2019”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the OCP Group, a global leader in phosphate and phosphate derivatives markets, also signed similar agreement on fertilizer production with the Dangote Group.
Dangote Group is one of Africa’s most diversified conglomerates and the leading cement producer founded by the Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote.
NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari and the Moroccan King Mohammed have also witnessed the signing of about 20 other bilateral agreements on trade, aviation, agriculture including cooperation in strengthening the local blending capabilities and Agriculture Eco-System Agreement.