The Nigeria Government is to revive six fertilizer blending plants before the end of the year, through the Infrastructure Unit of its Sovereign Wealth Fund.
The Managing Director of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Mr Uche Orji, said on Monday in Abuja when the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, paid him a working visit.
Orji said that the six plants set for revival across the country would bring the total number of operational fertilizer blending plants to 17.
He said the project was done through the Fertiliser Initiative programme of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration which was conceived to make the commodity available to farmers at cheaper rate.
The NSIA boss disclosed that since the inception of the programme in December 2016, the Authority had delivered more than six million bags of fertilizer below market price to farmers.
Specifically, he said a bag of fertilizer which hitherto sold between N11,500 to N13,000 had been brought down to N5,500 per bag since the beginning of the year.
He added that more than 50,000 jobs had been created by “rehabilitating 11 fertiliser blending plants which were either producing below capacity or moribund’’.
“The programme has saved the government more than N60bn in subsidy in 2017, as government used to subsidise fertilizer up to the tune of N6,000 per bag.
“The programme has also saved the government foreign exchange through the introduction of local contents in fertilizer blending,” he said.
Orji said that the feat was achieved through the local sourcing of two of the four major raw materials for ferltiliser blending.
“You need four materials for fertilizer blending which were hitherto imported, Phosphate, Limestone, Urea and Potash.
“Urea and limestone which accounts for 65 per cent of the raw materials are in abundance in Nigeria while phosphate and potash are what we need to import.
“However, what had happened before now was that all the four raw materials were imported.
“NSIA was therefore invited to work with the Fertiliser Blenders Association of Nigeria in a committee chaired by Jigawa governor.
“So far, we have produced and sold six million bags across the country at the lower rate,’’ he said.
He said that the target of the NSCIA was to revive all the 28 fertiliser blending plants in the country.
According to Orji, the retail price is boldly written on the fertilizer bags with a telephone number for whistle blowing in case of sharp practices by racketeers.
Orji said that NSIA was set up in 2012, as an agency to build a saving base for the country, enhance development of the nation infrastructure as well as provide stabilisation support in times of economic stress.
“The NSIA has three Funds; Stabilisation Fund which holds 20 percent of the Agency’s asset; Future Generation Fund which holds 40 percent of the asset and Infrastructure Fund which also holds 40 percent of the asset.
“The stabilisation fund and the future generation fund are mostly invested outside the country while the infrastructure fund is invested in Nigeria,’’ he said.
The minister commended the Authority for its intervention in the critical sector of the economy through the Infrastructure Fund.
He underscored the need for the NSIA to place priority attention on making public its activities to correct the erroneous impression that the Authority was only to access fund.
Mohammed also assured the management that the Federal Government was addressing the challenges of rail infrastructure which would help in the transportation of fertilizer and its raw materials across the country.