NIGERIA – The Federal Government on Monday entered into an agreement with a Russian firm, Uralchem, on fertiliser production in Nigeria.

The signing which was done under the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) will see Russia supply Nigeria potash, a key ingredient for the production of fertiliser to cut down the wholesale importation of fertiliser into the country.

The signing ceremony took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where the Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr Uche Orji, signed on behalf of the Nigerian government while Uralchem’s representative Mr Dmitry Konyeaev, signed on behalf of the company.

The Chairman of the PFI and Governor of Jigawa State, Mr, Abubakar Badaru, said the agreement was a milestone in the government’s efforts to improve food production.

Mr. Badaru noted that President Buhari proposed the possibility of Nigeria buying Potash from a company in Russia during the sidelines of the recently concluded Russia Africa Summit hosted by President Putin.

The proposal according to Badaru was to provide necessary support to farmers in order for them to increase farming production.

He added that by the agreement, middlemen in fertiliser distribution would be reduced, while products would be made available to farmers at cheaper rates.

“What we have just witnessed will help in stabilising the price of NPK brand of fertiliser that we produce locally,” Badaru stated.

“The beauty of this deal is that it is a direct purchase; no commissioned agent and also because of the involvement of the two Presidents, the price is very competitive,” he added.

On his part, the NSIA MD, Orji, disclosed that over 19 million bags of fertiliser had been blended since 2017 in the country when the PFI came into effect.

Orji said, “Between 2017 when the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative started and today, over 19 million bags of fertiliser have been blended by this programme at a price of N5, 500 and more importantly, we have revived some of the blending plants that were moribund.

“Today, as we approach the programme for 2020, 26 local blending plants, which include some of the old and new ones, have joined the programme.”

For along 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.

This initiative is beneficial to both the farmers and the economy as through the production of NPK fertilizer using locally sourced materials, employment has been created for the unemployed quota through the revamping of the moribund fertilizer plants and reviving the local blending fertilizer industry.

 The presidential fertilizer initiative has also enhanced food security as a result of increased in food production.