President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) to ensure availability of quality and affordable fertilizers to farmers at the right time as the nation’s journey to self-sufficiency and food security is not negotiable.
The President gave the challenge at a meeting with members of the PFI and Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
The Presidency had in Feb. 2017, inaugurated the PFI, which was approved by President Buhari in December 2016, to achieve the local production of one million metric tonnes of blended Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) Fertilizer for the 2017 wet season farming.
It was also to achieve an additional 500,000 metric tonnes for dry season farming.
The President saluted the commitment of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for boosting the activities of PFI to meet its targets.
“ I am impressed by the commitment of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to this project.
“The NSIA and FEPSAN, under the able leadership of the Governor of Jigawa, must ensure quality and affordable fertiliser is available to farmers at the right time.
“I congratulate all of you for the exceptional work you have done to date and assure you that this administration will do all it takes to make sure this programme continues to grow and impact lives.
“Nigeria’s journey to self-sufficiency and food security is not negotiable,’’ he said.
President Buhari, who urged the NSIA to continue to invest its fund in boosting the socio-economic activities of rural dwellers, maintained that there were endless opportunities in the rural economy.
He said: “I always talk about the endless opportunities in the rural economy if only people would look with an open mind. I will urge you to continue on this track.
“Unless we create an inclusive and diversified economy, the progress of our country, and its future generations, will always be held hostage by external factors such as global oil prices.’’
President Buhari called on the office of the National Security Adviser and other security agencies to allow and protect the movement of all agricultural goods, adding that issues relating to end user certificates must be prioritised.
He noted that the new fertilizer policy had succeeded in addressing cases of illegal diversion of the commodity and pledged that the federal government would continue to provide adequate security in the movement of fertilizer and other agricultural inputs in the country.
“Unlike in previous governments where trucks conveying fertiliser would miraculously disappear in transit, in 2017, none of the 3,333 trucks that participated in this programme went missing.
“I want to assure all participants of the PFI that, we will continue to provide adequate security so that this program, and its positive impact on Nigeria, is sustained,’’ he said.
President Buhari congratulated the members and leadership of the FEPSAN for producing and making available quality and affordable fertilizers across the country within three months.
“Although you were all competitors in the past, you all put aside your differences and came together to deliver on this important program. So thank you for putting Nigeria first.
“You must continue on this track,’’ he said.
He acknowledged partnership between the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and State Governors to ensure Nigeria feeds itself.
The President noted with delight that the CBN was working with the commercial banks on programmes that would further expand and enhance the PFI, adding that “we must all do our bit to ensure fertiliser is readily available.”
He, therefore, enjoined the Ministry of Finance and NSIA to immediately engage the Governors Forum to conclude their orders while the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should conclude the planning for all government programmes for the 2018 season to ensure synergy.
According to the President,the CBN working with the commercial banks, should ensure affordable capital is available to the farmers and agro-dealers, while the NPA should provide all the necessary support required to expedite the offloading and evacuation of the imported materials.
He also thanked the Chairman of the PFI and Governor of Jigawa, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru, whom he said had virtually relocated to Abuja to oversee the successful take off of the project.
“I must also express my profound gratitude to the people of Jigawa State for allowing us to borrow him on this very important national assignment which indeed, has changed the lives of millions of Nigerians across the country,’’ he added.
In his remarks, Gov. Badaru said all stakeholders exhibited a sense of patriotism to Nigeria, as they all made various levels of sacrifice, leading to a successful implementation of the programme.
He said already 11 blending plants had so far been activated for the production of the commodity in the country.
Badaru said most of the raw materials used for the production of fertilizer were locally sourced as directed by the President.
He thanked the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, for his immense support, which facilitated the smooth take off of the programme,