The Federal Government has launched the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 as a vital component of the agricultural policy of the present administration and the bid to reposition Nigeria’s economy from oil and gas to agribusiness. The Act will safeguard and protect the interest of the entire fertilizer value chain players such as manufacturers, producers, blenders, importers, distributors and the end user farmers in Nigeria.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono stated this in his public presentation of the Act in Abuja, recently.
Alhaji Nanono noted that the agric sector contributes about 21.2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of 2018, 88 per cent of non-oil foreign exchange earnings, employs about 70 of the active labour and provides raw materials for the agro-allied industrial sector.
Nanono said the Act would provide an enabling environment for fertilizer enterprises to grow, including the protection of investment in the agric sector and assured that farmers will get value for every kobo spent on buying fertilizer for their farms. According to him, “the Act therefore seeks to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from each kilogram of fertilizer bought and used by the farmers in terms of nutrients composition and levels”.
The minister informed that ‘’the quick assent to the fertilizer Act by Mr President goes to show the importance and commitment he attaches to the agricultural sector in general and his desire to help protect the investments of the Nigerian farmers, through the provision of this regulatory framework aimed at guaranteeing the supply and distribution of quality fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers across the country at their doorsteps, at the right time, right place and right prices”.
He acknowledged the efforts of stakeholders, including Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS), International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC), Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Nigeria Agricultural Business Group (NABG), Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), Nigeria Agro-Input Dealers Association (NAIDA) and other relevant stakeholders for their immeasurable support and inputs in ensuring the actualisation of this age-long dream of establishing a fertilizer regulatory system for Nigeria.
The Minister stated that the Act is against activities such as: operating or carrying on fertilizer business as a manufacturer, blender, importer or distributor in Nigeria with an expired permit or certificate of registration; Selling any fertilizer supplement that contains destructive ingredients or properties harmful to plant growth when used according to the accompanying instructions or in accordance with the instructions contained on the label of the package in which the fertilizer or the fertilizer supplement is contained; also, engaging in the illegal sales, distribution, transportation of fertilizers, among others.
He further said that there is need to ensure that the country meets the required set standards in terms of quality by enforcing the following measures: Proper documentation and licensing of all the players in the fertilizer value chain from the manufacturers, producers, blenders, importers, distributors to the end user farmers to ensure traceability and accountability in the fertilizer delivery process, deployment and re-training of more fertilizer quality control inspectors, among others.
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Abdulkadir Mua’zu said that the legal and regulatory framework for fertilizer quality control would enable Fertilizer Inspectors of Farm Inputs Support Services Department (FISSD) of the Ministry undertake periodic quality control and assessment to fertilizer production plants, ports of discharge and market outlets to ensure compliance.
Dr Mua’zu pointed out that “this is important because the Federal Government has identified some violations in the sub-sector which includes plant nutrient deficiencies, adulteration, misbranding, underweight bagging, bagging quality, operating without certificate of registration and sometimes with expired certificate of registration”.
He thanked all the stakeholders present and who have contributed in one way or the other in ensuring the passage of the bill, especially, members of the National Assembly Committees on Agriculture for championing and actualising the long awaited Fertilizer Act, international agencies such as IFDC, AGRA, NABG, who have been supporting and partnering with the Ministry to actualise the establishment of the Act.
In his goodwill message, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu noted that Nigerian farmers have suffered economic hardship based on the adulteration of fertilizer products over the years and he also appreciated President Muhammad Buhari for passing of the bill into law in October, 2019.