Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri has flagged-off the distribution of subsidised fertilizers to select vulnerable farmers as part of COVID-19 palliative to mitigate its impact on food security.
He said the programme which is in partnership with OCP Africa Fertilizer Limited, reinforces President Muhammadu Buhari's determination to improving the local production of fertilizer in the country in order to enhance productivity and household incomes targeted farmers as well as contribute largely to food security in the country.
Speaking at the flag off at Karshi market, Karshi, Abuja, the minister stated that similar gesture would be extended to other select farmers across 11 states and will cover 50,000 farmers with 2 bags of subsidised NPK fertilizers at N4, 500.00 per 50kg bag.
He reiterated Buhari's focus on the agricultural sector.
He said: "You are quite aware that agricultural sector of the economy is one of the key sectors that Mr. President has accorded a lot of priority attention and enormous responsibilities to pull the country out of poverty through repositioning the sector with all the required supports".
"The ministry has embarked on the expansion of the various sub-sector value chain activities in crops, livestock, fisheries and key priority sectors such as provision of quality agricultural inputs particularly fertilizers, seeds, tractors, equipment and implements, agro-chemicals among others."
He said: "The ministry is also paying attention to areas of land and climatic change management, rural infrastructures such as rural roads, water supply, some upstream and downstream activities in processing and value addition."
Shehuri added that as part of Buhari's determined effort to improve the local production of fertilizer in the country, the federal government entered into bilateral agreement with the King of Morocco for the supply of Di-ammonia Phosphate (DAP).
He explained that as a follow up to the agreement, the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) had been set up based on the Public Private sector Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
He said: "The PFI arrangement has increased significantly the local production of fertilizers particularly NPKs in the country and has generated a lot of employment along the fertilizer value chain, conserved scarce foreign exchange and removed dependence on foreign supply of fertilizers, revival of over 31 moribund fertilizer blending plants".
He further described OCP Africa as a world leader in the production and exportation of phosphate based fertilizer and phosphoric acid and a key global player in the fertilizer industry, producing 7.4 million metric tons in its production plant in Morocco.
He said the group had established a subsidiary OCP Africa, as a new company dedicated to transforming farming in Africa through the provisions of products and services to African farmers and making the continent an ocean of prosperity.
According to the minister federal government has also put in place a National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act and Regulations to ensure that the quality of fertilizers being produced and sold to farmers in the country are done in line with the prescribed set standards in terms of quantity and quality.