The Nigerian government says it will keep the price of fertilizer below N6,000 per bag, as it commenced blending of fertilizer in Kaduna State.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh told newsmen that Nigeria had taken delivery of the first batch of phosphate fertiliser from Morocco.
This follows the agreement between President Muhammadu Buhari and the King of Morocco.
“They are also bringing in Potash; 11 blending companies will start work in the first phase and in the next phase, others will join in; We are keeping the price of fertiliser at below N6, 000 per bag and hoping that middle men do not get in between and start hoarding or smuggling the fertiliser across the border to Cameroon,” Mr Ogbeh said.
On how to check racketeering, the minister said government would partner with the National Association of Road Transport Owners to check cases of fertilizer diversion and racketeering in the country.
He expressed concern over sharp practices encountered in the fertiliser value chain, saying the partnership would help check the menace.
“We are trying to get hold of the National Association of Road Transport Owners to help us check the trailer drivers,” the minister stated.
On the issue of commodity price, Mr Ogbeh said that the Nigerian Government would open grain reserves across the country within the next two weeks, to help crash down food prices in the markets.
Although prices of food items like maize and sorghum are gradually coming down, he said that the reserves would be opened, if prices of other agricultural produce did not come down.
According to him, ”Farmers are already harvesting rice and wheat in no fewer than four states to make food available for citizens across the country.”
”The transportation of food items from one state to another and export has commenced to make food available in all the states.
“They do not have enough locomotives, but the Minister of Transport is bringing in some that will help to evacuate these produce,’’ the minister promised.
The Nigerian government is already moving about 8,000 tonnes of soya-bean from Katsina to Lagos State.
Meanwhile, a 10-man committee has been inaugurated to work out modalities for repositioning of Universities of Agriculture into the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Minister, Mr. Audu Ogbeh urged the committee to be committed to the quest drive of taking the universities to their pride of place.
Mr Ogbeh said the move was to enable the ministry adequately support the institutions to recover in the areas of research and encourage vibrant youth farming.
“The committee will review the updated report of the three universities submitted to the ministry to determine the remedial actions that may be required immediately to stabilise and refocus them.
“I am optimistic that with all of us working together relentlessly and harnessing our respective competencies and strengths for the transformation of the agricultural sector, our ultimate goal for the diversification of the economy will be achieved’’ he stated.
On behalf of the committee, the Team Leader, Professor Gbolagade Ayoola commended government’s plan to relocate the institutions from the Ministry of Education to Agriculture.
He said the committee would work assiduously to reposition the institutions.