The Chairman of Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), Mr Thomas Etuh, has said that the country will be ready to export fertilizer within the next two years if current gains of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) are sustained.
Already, Etuh said Nigeria is selling the important agro input to some of its neighbours, like Benin Republic, Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic, a development which he noted, will help restore the country’s position as the food basket of the West African sub-region.
The export opportunity from fertilizer, he revealed, would be made possible by increased local production of the input that has ramped up from a mere 500,000 metric tonnes pre-2015 to close to 2 million metric tonnes currently.
Mr Etuh, who made this known in Abuja, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, which he said, has helped farmers access the critical agricultural input at affordable prices thereby reducing their overheads, boosting yield and encouraging more players to invest in the agriculture value chain.
“Before the conceptualization and activation of the PFI, we had a situation where there were 32 fertilizer blending plants in Nigeria that were moribund. Out of this number, only five blending plants were functional and even then, they were producing at 10 percent capacity on the average and that was because of excessive emphasis on importation.
“This also meant, by its very implication, that we were exporting our jobs even when we cannot provide jobs here in Nigeria. Foreign exchange that is scarce is spent building other people’s economies,” he stated.
He said Nigerians must make concerted efforts to show commitment towards solving the employment challenges that have been mounting in the country over the past decades, and expressed confidence that one of the critical planks of reversing the trend was sustained investment in agriculture in a creative way as not to create losses on both the government and the people.
He further commended Buhari for showing what he called the “political will” that has made it possible for the initiative to become a huge success, expressing his optimism that the journey towards food security in Nigeria may well have begun on a sound footing with the huge impact the PFI programme has made on the volume of food production in the country within only two years.