Nigeria’s agro-industrial sector is set to receive a boost as a result of the expected coming on stream of a $2billion granulated Urea fertiliser plant located in the Dangote Free Zone in Lagos.
The plant which will be the largest of its kind in the world is expected to commence operation soon as the Dangote Fertliser recently began the pre-testing of the multi-billion dollar project.
The company’s Group Executive Director, Strategy Portfolio Development and Project Limited, Devakumar Edwin said the plant will produce three million tonnes of the product per annum.What is the significance of this project to the nation’s ago-economy market and the nation’s drive towards food security in particular?
For Nigerians and industry watchers this project could not have come at a better time, considering the nation’s failure to meet its fertilizer demand over the years, thereby undermining the nation’s efforts at self-sufficiency in food production.
The Dangote fertilizer plant will not only bridge the huge gaps in the domestic demands for fertilizer , but will produce enough of the products to make the country export them to other countries in Africa, and possibly the rest of the world.
The good news is coming several years after the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative , PFI, commenced work , with millions of farmers in some states yet to access the much-hyped fertiliser, and where available, they are sold above the subsidised N5, 500 price.
The Initiative set up in December 2016 was to ensure farmers had easy access to the products at affordable rate. It was in line with this that Nigeria not long ago signed the second bilateral agreement with Morocco on the Second Phase of the Initiative.
The first phase, was for the supply of a cargo of phosphate by Morocco to Nigeria after eight weeks of its signing. This supply led to the resuscitation of eleven blending plants, which produced about 1.3m tonnes of fertiliser; the creation of 50,000 direct and 150,000 indirect jobs, while farmers to some extent have access to some quantity of fertiliser. The , PFI, Chairman, who also is the Governor of Jigawa State, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, during a recent visit to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, in Abuja explained their plans on fertilizer production for 2020 wet season which include the production of NPK 20-20 fertilizers with locally sourced materials to make them accessible and affordable to farmers , with the hope that it will impact positively on the economy. The fertilizer industry on the whole has a blending capacity of 4 million tonnes of NPK annually and 2 million tonnes of production of Urea including a capacity to employ over 250,000 people for both direct and indirect jobs.
Despite the efforts made by government, corporate bodies and individuals, non-availability of the commodity is seriously affecting farmers.The Fertiliser Producer and Supplier Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) has time and again attributed the non-availability to logistic problem and unavailability of fertiliser blending plants across the country. Noteworthy is also the report recently released by the IFDC in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organisation and other international agencies, fertilizer uptake by Nigerian farmers increased by 63 per cent in 2017, rising from 959,364 metric tonnes in 2016 to 1,564,816 metric tonnes .The report, which also noted the increase in the exportation of Urea by Nigeria, stated that exports in the area increased from 329,630 metric tonnes in 2016 to 659,603mt in 2017, with over 50 per cent of the product going to Brazil.
From these reports, the market for fertilisers, especially the granulated urea brand is there for Dangote and the country as a whole to take advantage of. Just like other companies of the business mogul, Aliko Dangote, the present one is coming at the right time and it is primed to succeed. They deserve the support and goodwill of the government and Nigerians to succeed in placing the nation in the fore forefront of agro-economic advancement.