Charges fertiliser blenders on national security
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Federal Government, Tuesday, unveiled the National Fertiliser Quality Control Act to boost farmers’ productivity and to curb the production of adulterated fertilisers.
Presentation of the Act was made by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Nanono, in Abuja.
Nanono also appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari, for his quick ascent to the fertilizer Act to actualize the dream of farmers over the years to have quality fertilizer.
He also acknowledged efforts of Chairmen and members of Committees on Agriculture of the 8th National Assembly towards the legislative action and the eventual passage of the bill into an Act that will revolutionize food production in the country.
According to him the supply of fertilizers and other farm inputs in the right quantity and quality at the right time and place at an affordable price(s) backed with proper management practices would go a long way in increasing farmers’ productivity, enhance household incomes and by extension guarantee food security at national levels.
He said: “The quick ascent to the fertilizer Act by Mr. President goes to show the importance and commitment he attaches to the agricultural sector in general and his desire to help protect the investments of the teeming farmers of this country through the provision of this regulatory framework aimed at guaranteeing the supply and distribution of quality fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers across the country at their doorsteps, at the right time, right place and right prices.
“As you may be aware, the journey for the establishment of Fertilizer Regulatory System for this country started as far back as 2002, passed through several processes and suffered many defeats but finally actualized in this current administration.
“The aspiration for the establishment of the regulatory framework followed a fertilizer study that revealed a high prevalence of low-quality fertilizers in the country.
“It is important to note that the Fertilizer Act was enacted into law to safeguard and protect the interest of the entire fertilizer value chain players such as manufacturers, producers, blenders, importers, distributors, and the end-user farmers.”
However, the Minister warned those who are involved in producing fake fertilizers as the Act prohibits it and anyone caught will be severely dealt with.
“The Act has prescribed roles and responsibilities for the stakeholders in the public and private sector in order to ensure compliance/popular participation for the smooth and effective implementation of the Act to achieve sanity in the fertilizer industry.
“Operating or carrying on fertilizer business as a manufacturer, blender, importer or distributor of fertilizer in Nigeria with an expired permit or certificate of registration
“Selling any fertilizer supplement that contains destructive ingredients or properties harmful to plant growth when used according to the accompanying instructions or in accordance with the instructions contained on the label of the package in which the fertilizer or the fertilizer supplement is contained
“Engaging in the sales, distribution, transportation of fertilizers or keeping custody of fertilizers without lawful authority, diversion or conversions of fertilizer to personal use or the use of another person
“Obstructing, hindering or preventing a duly authorized officer of the Prescribed Authority (Farm Inputs Support Services Department of the Ministry) from carrying out his/her duties and responsibilities assigned to him/her under this Act or regulations made pursuant to this Act, and engaging in the sales of unbranded or misbranded fertilizer”, he said.
According to the Minister the Act will be enforced practically as other areas of the Act also concerns inspection and enforcement powers under which an authorized officer of the Farm Inputs Support Services Department or a person duly authorized by the Prescribed Authority can enter and inspect any premises, building, vehicle, plant or equipment that is used in the manufacture, blending, importation, distribution, sale, storage or transportation of fertilizers.
“Take official samples from the fertilizers found during an inspection for laboratory analysis in order to ascertain the quality of the fertilizers.
“Vested with the power to inspect, during regular business hours, any premises where fertilizer(s) are manufactured, stored or sold; Inspect any person or a vehicle or receptacle used to move fertilizers from one location to another; Seize and detain any fertilizer in violation of the Act and any equipment, package, document, or means of transportation associated with such fertilizer.”
He also highlighted some required standards in terms of quantity and quality in the production and distribution of fertilizer to farmers.
“The following measures include proper documentation and licensing of all the players in the fertilizer value chain from the manufacturers, producers, blenders, importers, distributors to the end-user farmers to ensure traceability and accountability in the fertilizer delivery process; Deployment and re-training of more Fertilizer Quality Control Inspectors to add to the already trained over 150 officers to ensure proper monitoring and enforcement of the provisions of the Act and the regulations
“Service standards and complaint mechanism would be re-activated to ensure that services and feedback are timely provided to the vendors; Mobility would be adequately provided to the Quality Control Inspectors to ensure that the entire country is totally covered; The National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC), Kaduna and the collaborating Zonal Research Institutes’ Laboratories would be upgraded and equipped to ensure timely rendering of product evaluation results”, he added.
However, he charged fertilizer blenders to produce wet blend fertilizer free of explosive, which the issue of fertilizer has negatively being used by terrorists to carry out their evil acts.
“The issue of fertilizer is becoming a source of our problem in the security architecture in this country.
“I will like to challenge especially the blenders to turn their attention now to the production of wet blend fertilizer that would be free of explosive and that would provide the same nutrient we can get from a dry fertilizer”, he said.