By David Odama
A leading company in the global production and exportation of phosphate-based fertilizers (OCP) Tuesday commenced the distribution of fertilizer at subsidized rate to 50,000 farmers drawn from eleven state in Nigeria as part of it’s to mitigate the impact of Covid19 pandemic.
Speaking at the flagging off for Nasarawa and Abuja, the Managing Director of OCP Africa-Nigeria, Mohammed Hettiti said the palliatives intervention is aimed at supporting smallholder farmers across eleven selected states of Nigeria in order to mitigate the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the current farming season.
According to Hettiti, ensuring distribution and access to subsidized fertilizers and other farm inputs, the company will also train farmers on extension services, access to markets, and access to digital technology, all in a bid to increase crop yield and ensure food security as the 2020 farming season commences.
He said the company is working within the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and with Blending plants under the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN)
The company MD explained that company’s objectives of providing access to locally produced NPK 20:10:10 fertilizer for smallholder farmers was Paramount on the distribution chain of the organization.
Hettiti said the initiative underscores OCP Africa’s commitment to the Federal and State governments of Nigeria in the drive to curtail the spread and adverse effect of COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
‘’In choosing to initiate the COVID-19 response, OCP Africa saw a need to partner with governments at Federal and States levels at ensuring that the Agricultural sector is supported during this global pandemic and national food security is guaranteed.
However, the need to support the livelihood and productivity of rural smallholder farmers in this difficult period is uppermost in OCP Africa’s strategy which particularly supports the many efforts of Government in ensuring not only an Agric-revolution but also food security’’, he asserted.
Speaking while flagging off the distribution exercise in Karshi, Nasarawa and Abuja, the Minister for state Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehu commended OCP Africa on its initiative to guarantee food security for the population in the face of COVID-19 pandemic,
He said subsidizing over 100,000 bags of fertilizers to 50,000 smallholder farmers in the country would not only cushion the effect of the pandemic but increase the out put of the farmers in the selected states.
He said it was critical to have measures in place where food scarcity, as predicted by some to be the fallout of the pandemic won’t surface in the country, which was why he supports the fertilizer company backing the government to provide food for the citizenry through the palliatives.
According to the minister, “OCP, one of the leading companies in the global production and exportation of phosphate-based fertilizers, is working within the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and with Blending plants under the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN), to contribute to the PFI objectives of providing access to locally produced NPK 20:10:10 fertilizer for smallholder farmers.”
Shehuri also said the PTI has revived over 31 moribund fertilizer blending plants across the country, adding that his ministry has embarked on expansion of various sub-sector value chain activities in crops, livestock, fisheries.
He said: “Other expansions were provision of quality agricultural inputs particularly fertilizers, seeds, tractors, equipment and implements, agro-chemicals, among other things