NIGERIA – The Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism (AFFM) has kick-started a US$2.2 million project to provide fertilizer suppliers in Nigeria with financial support, implemented by Africa Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP).

The trade credit guarantee project is AFFM’s first in the West African nation and will involve 10 fertilizer suppliers, 12 hub agro-dealers and 120 retail agro-dealers, improving fertilizer supply to 200,000 smallholder farmers.

The project will also train farmers in proper fertilizer use and other agricultural best practices.

“We will leverage on existing networks and look for creative solutions to increase the availability of fertilizer in the country,” said Nana-Aisha Mohammed, AFAP’s representative at the ceremony.

Umar Musa, Assistant Director of FMARD’s Farm Inputs Support Services Department who represented the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) said AFAP should work with the Nigerian government and other actors in the fertilizer value chain to ensure that the project complies with Nigeria’s policies and sector strategies.

“We expect this project to support smallholder farmers and improve their productivity in order to help the country increase its local production and consumption of fertilizer,” he said.

“We are confident that the project will increase access to quality and affordable fertilizer by smallholder farmers and hence contribute to the transformation of the agriculture sector in Nigeria,” said Marie Claire Kalihangabo, AFFM Coordinator.

Kalihangabo expressed her gratitude to the Government of Nigeria for their financial support to the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism.

The Bank’s Nigeria Regional Office Faal said the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 further serves to reinforce the government’s commitment to the sector.

“This program is timely because the government has placed measures to encourage local production of fertilizer,” he said.

This comes months after the Federal Government on Monday entered into an agreement with a Russian firm, Uralchem supply Nigeria potash, a key ingredient for the production of fertiliser to cut down the wholesale importation of fertiliser into the country.

For a long time, fertilizer- a necessary component in farming- was largely imported from Europe at prices not affordable for small scale sustenance farmers who are the majority in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

To ease this bottleneck, the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative was birthed and launched in February 2017, to achieve the local production of one million metric tonnes of blended NPK Fertilizer for wet season farming and an additional 500,000 metric tonnes for dry season farming.