The Federal Government says it is working towards developing agro-dealers network across the country to ensure that fertilisers and other inputs are available and accessible to farmers all year-round.
Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, stated this on Thursday in Abuja at the 2nd Annual West African Fertiliser Stakeholders’ Forum themed “Scaling up Quality and Adapted Fertiliser Supply in West Africa.”
“It is one of the current government’s aspirations to empower these agro-dealers to function independently in making fertilisers and other agro-inputs accessible to farmers always. We want to develop agro-dealers network in the rural communities where majority of our farmers reside to access these inputs without much stress.”
The minister said that the country hosted the African Fertiliser Summit in June 2006 and proposed a number of actions for boosting fertiliser production and usage in Nigeria and the rest of the sub-region.
He listed the actions to include: development of a favourable policy framework for full private sector investment in the fertiliser industry, quality control and monitoring mechanism to regulate the sector.
“The summit also proposed to protect the interests of investors and farmers, specific programmes to improve mechanisms for the administration of targeted subsidy to farmers. I am delighted that this Forum has provided us another opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made over the years with respect to the implementation of the above-mentioned actions. We will sustain the tempo by making fertiliser available, accessible and affordable to our farmers across the West African sub-region,” he said.
Ogbeh added that a national financing facility supplier for small-scale farmers has been established to enable them access credits.
He said that the Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was set up to provide loans at single digit interest rate to the sector.
Other incentives according to him were put in place to also encourage stakeholders in the fertiliser value chain to work together to improve productivity, household food security and farmers’ income levels.
“I appreciate the theme of this Forum: ‘Scaling up Quality and Adapted Fertiliser Supply in West Africa:
Cecilia Khupe, the Chief Compliance Officer, African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership, who spoke, said that Nigeria problem was not policy formation but its implementation.
“Policy formulation has never been our problem. We have excellent policy in Africa but the implementation is the challenge. I think the honourable minister needs to address this challenge fast to see an end to the irregularities happening in terms of fertiliser distribution and accessibility.”
Khupe said that 35 billion dollar was used to import food to most Africa countries yearly, adding that Africans have enough resources to produce food to feed its citizens.
According to her, the global world population will be about 9.7 billion in 2050 and it is the responsibility of the continent to think of how to feed this population in 2050.
She, however, urged private individuals to invest in fertiliser production as Nigeria has the market.