OCP Africa, a fertiliser manufacturing company which has its headquarters in Morocco, has made known its intention to establish two industrial fertiliser plants worth $1 billion this year to complement Nigeria’s government effort to boost local production.
According to the Managing Director of the company, Muhamed Hettiti, the plants would in no small measure help in boosting local production, create permanent jobs and facilitate export opportunities.
Hettiti noted that aside from the industrial plants, OCP was also planning to build two blending plants in Ogun and Kaduna states that would be delivered in September 2019.
He further stated that the firm is supporting the Federal Government’s drive to increase local production of fertiliser as well as ensuring a decrease in NPK fertiliser importation.
He said the firm was ready to leverage Nigeria’s ammonia production which was very high and was co-advertising with the Federal Government to establish a plant to utilise the raw material.
“We have an objective to balance the trade between Morocco and Nigeria. We do not want only importation into Nigeria. Nigeria is importing DAP (Di-Ammonium Phosphorous) fertiliser from Morocco.
“We want to leverage on the local raw material that is abundant in Nigeria which is ammonia. That is why we are looking for co-advertisement with the Federal Government to establish a big plant worth $1 billion.
“The plant will produce ammonia that we can export to Morocco and that is why we are investing that amount to build a DAP plant, but the location has not been finalised.
“It will take a lot to build; like we need designated ports, roads and others. We are also planning that the main market will be Nigeria and other neighbouring countries.
“For now, we are importing DAP fertiliser which is phosphate and ammonia but with the plant here, the only phosphate will be imported from Morocco, then we blend here and even export, ‘’ he said.
Hettiti, however, called for clarity concerning the ban on fertiliser, because the stakeholders were of the opinion that the ban affected other raw materials like phosphorous, which Nigeria was in huge shortage of.
He said though Nigeria had phosphate and potassium, these were in small quantity that would help commercial production of DAP fertiliser.
Hettiti said that the firm was also engaged in other major projects in Nigeria such as School Laboratory and Agribooster for market development, job creation and farmer empowerment.
He said: “If you give farmers fertiliser at the lowest price, it is still not enough.
“That is why we have two programmes which are the School Lab (a mobile truck with a laboratory installed in it) for soil tests to propose the right fertiliser for the right crop and for the right land which started in 2017.
“We have reached out to 10,000 farmers in Kaduna and Gombe states.
“In 2018, we targeted 70,000 but as at November, we have done 67,600 in Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi and Kano states. In 2019, we have proposed to reach out to 100,000.”
Hettiti explained that the firm also had the Agribooster to increase yield and income of farmers.
According to him, under this initiative, we bring together all the stakeholders in the sector like the financial sector, seeds suppliers, fertiliser suppliers and off-takers.
“We try to develop farmers to see farming as a business. We know farmers want a situation where they produce, there will be off-takers.
“We also provide farmers with farm inputs like fertilisers, seeds, crop protection and most importantly training on best practices and we have extension officers who ensure farmers adhere to the training, ‘’ he said.
The Production and Technical Manager, Mr Oluwatoba Asana, highlighted some of the challenges in the sector.
Asana mentioned distribution network, training people, timely supply of fertiliser, among others.
He said that the world population was increasing, hence, the use of fertiliser could not be ignored.
“If we neglect fertiliser, we will not be able to become food sufficient. A fertiliser is phosphate, ammonia and potassium; all of these ingredients are already in the soil.
“In America, the rate of fertiliser usage per hectare is between 200kg and 250kg but in Nigeria, we apply only about 8kg per hectare.
“In America also, they produce four to five tonnes of maize per hectare and in Nigeria, we produce less than one tonne of maize per hectare. So, you see the difference.
“The plants are like humans; they will take what they need and neglect what they do not need, ‘’ Asana said.
The firm’s Marketing Analyst, Mr Kazeem Ajape, noted that OCP was also making plans to introduce Agri-Tech also known as Smart Fertiliser.
Ajape said that the initiative which would commence in 2019, would accord farmers a platform with digital solutions to challenges in the sector.
“OCP is developing smart fertiliser. A smart fertiliser is a right fertiliser for the right crops, at the right time and at the right quantity. This is to optimise the price for the farmer.
“We are going to introduce Agri-Tech project. The country selected for the pilot project in Nigeria and we are developing a digital solution for farmers.
OCP Africa Fertilisers Nigeria Ltd. has been in Nigeria since 2016 and is a partner with the Federal Government on the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative to establish local blending plants for the availability of fertiliser at cheaper rates to farmers.