In 2017, africanfertilizer.org released a report showing a rise in the percentage of Nigerian farmers uptaking fertilizers. With a rise of 63% from the 959,364 metric tons of fertilizer accessed in 2016, Nigerian farmers were now recorded to have accessed 1,564,816 metric tons. This was said to be the result of the efforts by the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), funded by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), to get more farmers to access and utilize this crucial input.
Fertilizers, which have been shown to increase and sustain crop yields, are agricultural inputs that are necessary to heighten crop productivity and food security in any nation. Nigeria’s victories in getting more farmers to know about, access and use fertilizers have, however, long been eclipsed by a lack of adequate legal framework for the sector, which has allowed a number of negative activities in the sector to grow unchecked.
With the Fertilizer Quality Control Bill (FQCB) passed by the Senate last month, a lot of hope has been reignited for a number of stakeholders in Nigeria’s fertilizer sector, and there is good reason for such hope.
About the Fertilizer Quality Control Bill
The Fertilizer Quality Control Bill was sponsored by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) under the Micro Reforms for African Agribusiness (MIRA). AGRA joined forces with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to push the Bill, which was geared towards regulating the production and the sale of fertilizers in Nigeria.
The Bill’s stipulations will help to safeguard the interest of farmers against adulteration, nutrient deficiencies and short weight. Although farmers are the most obvious beneficiaries of the FQCB, the Bill actually also provides a safeguard for the interests of fertilizer enterprises, while working to create an enabling environment for private sector players interested in investing in the sector.
With the interests of these stakeholders helped by the FQCB, Nigeria’s agricultural sector will see increased productivity, and the higher yield crops gotten from utilizing this crucial input will be a step to food security for the country.
Regulatory frameworks for fertilizer production and quality benefit from legislation which makes necessary provisions for:
- identification of fertilizer manufacturers, importers, and dealers;
- allows for specification of all fertilizers manufactured/imported and sold in the country;
- gives guidelines on manufacture of fertilizer mixtures, as well as packaging and labeling on the fertilizer bags; and
- appoints enforcement agencies to ensure all of the above and guard against the manufacture/import and sale of non-standard/spurious/adulterated fertilizers through appropriate punishment for offenders.
Prior to the sponsorship of the Fertilizer Quality Control Bill, the sector in the country was covered by the Fertilizer (Control) Decree Act and the National Fertilizer Board Act both of which were unable to holistically address the quality challenges in Nigeria’s fertilizer sector. Both Acts will be repealed by the FQCB, which provides a more robust framework for regulation of the sector.
AFEX Speaks on the Passage of the Bill
Ayodeji Balogun, the Country Manager of AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited – Nigeria’s first private sector commodities exchange – said that the Senate’s passage of the Bill was a step forward for Nigeria’s agricultural sector. According to him, “When resource poor smallholder farmers buy substandard fertilizer products along with other agricultural inputs without knowing, the result of their hard work and progressive thinking is still a whole year of poor yield that leads to less income being available to them to cover healthcare and education for themselves and their families. We hope the bill, and the implementation structure that will be developed on the back of it, will ensure that our farmers are protected and can access high quality fortified products close to their communities. Also, the multiplier effect of the bill on investor confidence and productivity increase will be significant.”
The trickledown effect of better regulation for the fertilizer sector in Nigeria cannot be denied. Adulterated fertilizers have been known to cause a lot of damage to the soil and deny farmers of expected higher yields. Non-standardization of the sector also hinders proper deregulation and adequate investment in the sector keeping prices for fertilizers high, which leads to equally high food prices. The Fertilizer Quality Control Bill