By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- THE Federal Government has said it would shut down fertiliser producing plants who are into diversion of the essential commodity meant for farmers.
This threat issued by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, yesterday, following allegations that one of the two big urea plants in Nigeria were producing for export while selling to Nigerian farmers at skyrocketed prices, making affordability and accessibility difficult.
He said: “Two urea plants are big enough to run the Nigerian demands. We know their capacities. But where there are allegations that some people are exporting instead of putting in the Nigerian market, and prices shot to N10, 000 per bag of urea, we became extremely angry with them. Thank God now, many of them have started producing and putting into the market and the price is already dropping.
“But, we are warning against the future. There can’t be any priority but the Nigerian market. If there is a surplus, they are free to export, but, unless and until there is a surplus.
“We can’t sit by and watch people selling fertiliser beyond the shores of Nigeria when the local farmers have nothing to buy. And we are saying the same to others. The priority is the Nigerian market.”
The Minister appealed to the producers of fertiliser to be considerate and give priority to local demand for food production and also the big market in the country for their product.
“There is a good market. There is no reason to side-track this market and go and create difficulties for farmers, because there is hunger in the land and government is taking the blame. And we are giving every support we can to people who want to manufacture locally; and we will always give. So, we need absolute cooperation from all of them”, he stated.