By Emmanuel Afonne
The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), has advised farmers to buy fertiliser early for the 2018 farming season to ease the problems of logistics in the production and distribution of the commodity.
Mr Uche Orji, the Managing Director of NSIA made this call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, his agency, which manages the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, is collaborating with the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) to make fertiliser distribution less cumbersome henceforth.
“We are dealing with it in twofold; we want to start planning early and to start getting our products on time.
“We encourage farmers to start buying their fertiliser early because the challenge we have is that most people end up buying fertiliser in June and July.
“So there are bottleneck issues with production because the blending plants cannot double their capacity overnight.
“We went through a phase where people were not buying fertiliser and suddenly, everybody wants to buy at the same time and to address this, farmers should buy early so that we can blend through the year, if possible,” Orji said.
The NSIA chief said that efforts were being made to increase the number of blending plants to shorten the distance and the risk taken by drivers while transporting the product to a far distance.
He said that 15 out of the 32 blending plants in the country had been revived under the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) and that there would be more of this by March 2018.
Orji said: “Another way we are addressing the challenges is to increase the number of the blending plants participating in the programme.
“At the 2017 programme, the only blending plant to participate in the PFI in the North East is in Bauchi, so the work that is being done now with FEPSAN is to include some blending plants in Adamawa and some other parts of the North East.
“This is where it pains because if you have to pick up products from Bauchi and transport it to parts of Borno, it is a long distance, and this adds to the cost of the products being supplied to some of these farmers.
“We have heard reports of people having the prices above the threshold but the reality is that when you begin to travel far distances, the only way out is to ensure there are more and more blending plants.
“FEPSAN is doing a fantastic job with the state governors, so you are going to see more blending plants added to the programme by next year”.
Orji also pleaded with the state governors, who were yet to key into the PFI to do so in order to ease the challenges facing farmers in their states.
He noted that the late purchase of the product, which characterised the 2017 work-plan, was unhealthy for the sustenance of the programme.