…trains 170 inspectors and laboratory technicians/technologists
By Gabriel Ewepu
THE Federal Government, weekend, assured farmers and investors on implementation of Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 to boost food production.
Giving the assurance was the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, at the ‘Training of Inspectors and Laboratory Technicians/Technologists on Implementation of the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019’, held in Abuja.
Umakhihe in his address of welcome maintained that the Fertilizer Inspectorate was conceptualized to give the Farm Input Support Services Department of the Ministry being the implementing authority the strong presence at the State level which is critical to the successful implementation of the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019.
He said: “For Nigeria, the agricultural sector is one of the key drivers of the economy, and a strong and vibrant agricultural sector is needed to ensure job creation, wealth augmentation, and the production of adequate food for our over 200 million population. Fertilizer as a powerful productivity-enhancing input is critical to building the vibrant agricultural sector we desire.
“To refocus the sector, the Government started some policy reforms aimed at positioning the fertilizer subsector to play a pivotal role in the Nigerian agricultural transformation.
“One of the earliest reforms was the complete withdrawal of Government from procurement of fertilizer and the support of the private sector to take the lead while government facilitates, as well as provides supporting infrastructure, systems, control processes, and oversight.
“In a bid to domesticate the blending of NPK Fertilizer in the Country, the Government banned the importation of finished Mineral Fertilizer containing two or three of the fertilizer elements – nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium into the country.
“To further strengthen the Fertilizer Industry, Mr. President signed the National Fertilizer Quality (Control) Act, 2019 into law to provide an improved regulatory framework for the manufacture, importation, sale, and distribution of Fertilizer in Nigeria. The implementation of the Act has necessitated the deployment of 170 Fertilizer Inspectors Nationwide to facilitate the enforcement of the provisions of the Act.
“It is envisioned that the implementation of the Act will protect the farmers against nutrient deficiencies, adulteration, misleading claims, and short weight, safeguard the investments of Fertilizer enterprises and contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for private sector investment in the fertilizer industry, protect the natural environment and people against the potential dangers associated with inappropriate use of fertilizer and harmful substance in fertilizer, and facilitate National, inter and intra-states trade in fertilizers.”
However, the Ministry’s scribe told trainees that the Farm Inputs Support Services Department of the Ministry has commenced full implementation of the Act and the Regulations with the registration of fertilizer operators.
“A successful registration exercise will be the bedrock of our collective success in the fertilizer industry. Therefore we urge you to remain committed to wooing the fertilizer operators to register with the Department to facilitate the administration of the fertilizer industry.
“After the ongoing first-line registration exercise, the Department will commence the inspection exercise in which all facilities and products of Fertilizer Operators will be subjected to series of inspections and tests to ensure they meet the stipulated standards as provided for in the Act and the Regulations.
“This stage is critical as a prerequisite for the certification of the operators. Then you as the Fertilizer Inspectors will start collecting samples of fertilizers for analysis and field trials as stipulated by the Act.
Meanwhile, speaking on the essence of training 170 inspectors and laboratory technicians/technologists, he (Umakhihe) said, “Fertilizer analysis is valuable to the implementation of the Act, as it ensures that fertilizers contain only the appropriate and approved nutrients at the right proportion.
“It is therefore very important that the testing technique is corrected nationwide to facilitate enforcements and eliminate controversies as the Department can also be sued and personalized when enforcements are wrongly implemented.
“This is why we have the Laboratory Technicians/Technologists in this training exercise to help them understand the intricacies of the Act and Regulations”, he added.