Much has been said about Nigeria’s deteriorating state of economic health, but agriculture continues to rebound as the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), also known as the Sovereign Wealth Fund, has resuscitated 11 fertilizer blending plants across the country, which substantially brought down the price of fertilizer, ended fertilizer subsidy and ensured the availability of the commodity.
Save for the scarcity of cash, farmers would have been smiling from ear to ear; but for now, they have to make do with half loaf they have.
The Sovereign Fund’s Managing Director Uche Orji told the visiting Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Abuja: “We have delivered over 6 million bags of NPK 20:10:10 at 30% below the market price without subsidy. In the process of that, we have also created over 50,000 jobs. We have rehabilitated 11 blending plants that had either been under capacity or moribund,” he said.
He said six other moribund fertilizer blending plants across the country are at various stages of rehabilitation and will come on board by the end of the year.
Mr. Orji said through this intervention, the Fund has saved the government over N50 billion in subsidy this year, based on the fact that the government used to subsidize fertilizer to the tune of N6,000 per bag.
The NSIA boss said the fertilizer initiative of the Authority also assisted the government to conserve foreign exchange through the substitution of 65% components of the fertilizer with local content.
According to him, the Fund eliminated fertilizer subsidy and middlemen in the distribution process by putting whistle blower telephone numbers on every bag to guard against arbitrary increase in the price of the commodity.
While commending the Fund for its intervention in the critical sectors of the economy, the Minister said the present administration has succeeded in breaking the jinx in fertilizer supply to farmers.
“You have done three major things here. One is that you have crashed the price of fertilizer and this in itself is very significant because what we have today is that for the cost of one bag of fertilizer, you can get two bags of fertilizer.
“When you now look at the improvement in the type of fertilizer that you are now making available, it has helped us to increase yield from about 2 metric tonnes per hectare to 7 metric tonnes and I think in some areas up to 11. More remarkable to me is that we have been able to demystify the fertilizer conundrum,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the intervention by the Fund has also eliminated corruption and scandals in the procurement of fertilizer.
The Minister observed that the interventions and the laudable efforts that the Fund is making, especially in the area of Agriculture, infrastructure and health, are ground-breaking and pledged to partner with the Fund in order to publicize its activities.