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Farmers seek Ogbeh’s resignation over circulation of fake fertilizers causing poor fields

The leadership of Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) has raised alarm on the discovery of fake fertilizer in circulation, saying the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has failed in his duties to protect farmers.

In an interview with the Executive Secretary of FEPSAN, Mr Ahmed Rabiu Kwa, he decried that the adulterated fertilizer, which had been in circulation in the last few months was causing low yield of farm crops.

While hinting that the ugly development will be felt more as many farmers continue to record poor yields, he recalled that “the fake fertilizer is smooth in texture, dusty and mixed with sand while the original contains particles like rice, maize and other ingredients which are visible”.

Other farmers who spoke with our correspondent in Kwara and Kebbi state relayed similar experience and called for the removal of the minister for not nipping the problem in the bud.

They described the system whereby fertilizers that are circulated by the Ministry turned out to be fake product in a government that is driving economic diversification in agriculture.

Speaking further, Kwa called on “The Federal Government should urgently nib the development in the bud because it could derail its plan to produce one million metric tonnes of fertilizer in 2018.

“In 2017 after the launch of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, about 500,000 metric tonnes of NPK fertilizer was produced.

“The initiative was a superb one by Mr President because it went smoothly and the yield was high.

“But the producers of fake fertilizers are now everywhere trying to retard the efforts of the government and that of the association. This can retard the success made so far in the sector, ” he said.

The apex government under the supervision of the Minister, Chief Ogbeh, initiated the programme in partnership with FEPSAN and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

Chemical Industries Plc is one of the leading fertiliser, agro-allied, and power companies in Africa. Its principal activities include the supply of premium fertilisers, appropriate education on best practices for farming, and proper deployment of these practices for optimum results.

It was not clear if Notore Group was part of the suppliers of the fake fertilizer that frustrated farmers yield as disclosed by Kwa.

Business Hilights recalls that on acquiring the assets of the former National Fertiliser Company of Nigeria (NAFCON), through the federal government’s privatisation programme in 2005, Notore, under the leadership of the Group Managing Director/CEO, Onajite Okoloko, has since grown into an agricultural phenomenon, targeting local markets as well as exports.

The company raised more funds from a syndicate of Nigerian banks and commenced extensive rehabilitation of the plant in 2007, and in early 2010, it started commercial production and distribution of fertiliser across the country.

Presently, Notore has the largest Agricultural Services and Extension team, and is the trusted partner to local, commercial and subsistence farmers in Nigeria.

Fertiliser distribution in Nigeria prior to Notore’s entrance into the industry was limited to urban and semi-urban centres. Nigeria’s estimated 14 million farming households who live in rural communities had limited access to this critical farm input.

Therefore, to address this problem, Notore’s distribution network was structured to ensure effective delivery of products to the nook and crannies of its market sphere at a uniform price.

By this strategy, the company ensured wealth creation to all partners in its distribution value chain, while providing easy access to all farmers.

In addition, it has over 2,500 agro dealers, developed and trained over 3,500 Private Extension Workers/Village Promoters, and has made fertiliser in appropriate pack sizes available to rural farmers in over 2,500 communities across 30 states.

Notore employs about 500 and created over 5,000 indirect employments through its Distributors, Transporters, and Private Extension workers alone, thereby contributed significantly to Nigeria’s GDP since production commenced.

In 2010, Notore worked with experts and tackled the onion twister fungal disease experienced in Kebbi State, and has significantly boosted government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda by being the primary supplier of fertiliser for the ongoing Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

It also worked with state governments and non-governmental organisations to develop fertiliser voucher programmes in Kano, Kwara and Bauchi states between 2009 and 2011.

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