President Muhammadu Buhari has said developments in the Nigerian fertilizer value chain is moving the country to becoming a regional and global fertilizer powerhouse and advised investors to look beyond short-term gains to enable them realise the immense economic and social gains available for themselves and the country.
Speaking during a virtual briefing on the progress of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative by the President of Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria Mr. Thomas Etuh, President Buhari appreciated the investments that have been made by Nigerians in the fertilizer sector, saying those investments have contributed in lifting rural unemployment.
The President, who expressed confidence in the leadership of FEPSAN under Thomas Etuh, noted the sustained investments by members of the association even during the recessionary period and the Covid-19 lockdown and thanked them for their sacrifices and personal commitments to the economic emancipation of Nigeria through enhanced availability of crop inputs for improved agricultural yield.
He said increased investments in the rural areas are a strong factors that have progressively helped in tackling some of the security issues the country has been witnessing, predicting that the country would witness unprecedented prosperity with sustained investments in peace-building in the rural areas.
“Nigerians should be proud of the sacrifices and personal commitments you have made towards the milestones we have so far recorded. The resent recession didn’t you’re your investments in this sector even when others were taking their investments outside the country. Investments in rural areas tackles unemployment, which is the root cause of the insecurity we have been experiencing in many parts of the country at present,” President Buhari noted.
He assured of the disposition of the Federal Government towards providing a favourable investment climate in the country and thanked the King of Morocco for partnering with hi administration towards ending fertilizer scarcity in the country, adding that a recent agreement with the government of the north African country will go a long way in improving the balance of trade between the two countries.
A major highlight of the briefing was the restructuring of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to ensure it was fully led by the private sector, who would provide all funding for the procurement of raw materials necessary for fertilizer production in the country.
Earlier during his briefing, FEPSAN President, Thomas Etuh highlighted the initiative, commitment and supportive roles of President Buhari in birthing the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative which commenced the sectoral revitalization process, stressing that the singular initiative has lifted the country from scarcity to availability of the essential agro input.
Mr. Etuh reminded Mr. President of the initial mandate given to FEPSAN members through the PFI programme in 2016 and said the success of the initial mandate is being leveraged to further wider opportunities in the year 2021.
“Mr. President, when you invited us for a role in the PFI programme, there were only four blending plants in Nigeria operating at less than 40 percent capacity. But today, we are proud to announce the existence of 40 blending plants in the country, all operating at 100percent capacity. Today, we are proud to announce that all the blending plants in Nigeria source 60 percent of their raw material locally,” the FEPSAN President stated.
He informed President Buhari than members of FEPSAN have a combined production capacity for 1.5 million metric tonnes of blended NPK fertilizer in 2021, up from one million metric tonnes in 2020, adding that with the addition of Urea production from the new Dangote refinery in Lagos, Nigeria has earned the enviable status of the biggest Urea producer in Africa.
“We are at a level where the country can boast of an annual production of 6.5 million metric tonnes of Urea. With Dangote bringing in a fresh three million metric tonnes to add to the three million being produced by Indorama and the 500,000 metric tonnes from Notore, Mr. President, you can beat your chest and say that you have delivered the country from scarcity to abundance, not only in fertilizer ram materials but also in blended NPK production.” Etuh stated.
He revealed that portfolios for fertilizer plant funding in the country that were hitherto considered unbankable are not considered bankable, thanks to the growth of the sector inspired by President Buhari.
He commended the president for the passage of the Fertilizer Bill by the National Assembly and for the Anchor Borrowers programme that has ensured finance were available or farmers through the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying that the collaborative efforts of the Minister of Agriculture, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) have worked in favour of the unprecedented growth recorded in the sector.
Mr. Etuh called on President Buhari to direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other security agencies to work with the PEPSAN task force on quality control to monitor the quality assurance standards of blenders and to provide surveillance against the diversion of sensitive raw material by unscrupulous elements.