With the commencement of the 2018 rainy season, small-scale farmers in the country have raised the alarm over the prevalence of adulterated or fake fertiliser brands in the market, a development that reduces crops yield and ultimately threatening their means of livelihood.
LEADERSHIP findings revealed that with the farming activities in top gear for the year, hope of a bumper harvest by farmers is not guaranteed given their experience in the previous year. Farmers, who spoke to our reporter, expressed fears and concerns regarding the 2018 farming season regarding the unbated sale and circulation of fake fertilisers in the country, saying that they may be in for another disappointment concerning their hope of bumper harvest.
An agricultural expert, Francis Musa, who spoke to LEADERSHIP, underscored the importance of fertiliser in boosting crops yield, noting that it must however be safe and of high quality. “Assuming the yield of a year is supposed to be 1 ton per hectare without fertiliser.
With fertiliser it would yield about 1.4 to 1.5 tons per hectare, which is about 40 to 50%. In some cases it could be more depending on other factors such as improved seeds and so on. Much as the rainfall is key to huge harvest,so is quality and safe fertiliser. “We cannot underestimate the importance of quality and safe fertiliser in agriculture.
Because farmers stand to benefit a lot, while improving food security in national interest. But, if adulterated fertiliser is used, the yield of crops could be greatly affected, opening the door for food scarcity and increase in price of food produce,” Musa said.
He added that there was a need for a legislation that will ensure strict compliance to best practices in fertiliser production, prohibition of adulteration and stringent sanctions against violators of the law, noting that “this will help in protecting farmers, and promote agricultural development at large.”
It will be recalled that the Fertilizer Producers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) with support from Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) under the Micro Reform for Africa Agribusiness (MIRA), have organised workshops and meetings on different occasions that brought stakeholders in the agricultural sector together to brainstorm on a how to tackle adulteration of fertiliser, especially through Fertiliser Quality Control Bill, (FQCB) which provides a legal framework for maintaining quality production of fertiliser and ensuring that the fertiliser industry maintains the necessary standards.
LEADERSHIP further learnt that the Bill has been tansmitted from the House of Representatives to the Senate for concurrence and subsequent legislative procedure preceding its passage into law. The Bill provides legal framework that stipulates strict compliance to best standards in fertiliser production, prohibits re-bagging and adulteration of fertiliser.
“It therefore, it is in the interest of poor farmers, who are losing their investments and whose means of livelihood is under threat by circulation of adulterated fertiliser that the National Assembly should pass the Bill without further delay,” Musa concluded. A source at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture also told LEADERSHIP while speaking on the adulterated fertiliser menace and its dangers, that the passage of FQCB was vital to agricultural development, food security and protection of farmers from falling victims of using substandard fertilisers.
However, according to a report recently released by the Africanfertilizer.org housed by the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) with support from International Fertiliser Industry Association (IFA) and other partners, fertiliser uptake by Nigerian farmers has increased by 63 per cent in 2017, rising from 959,364 metric tonnes in 2016 to 1,564,816 metric tonnes which was largely due to the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), which is an initiative of the present administration.
“With these huge amounts of fertiliser coming into our market we need legislation like the FQCB that ensures that producers adhere strictly to best practices, prohibits adulteration of fertilizer by middlemen, compensate farmers who suffer loss due to and checkmate other sharp practices by middlemen who mix all sorts of things with little fertilizer to increase quantity, make gains at the detriment of poor farmers”.