By Felicia Imohimi
Prof. Victor Chude, the Registrar, Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) has blamed the high cost of fertiliser in the country on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) restriction of foreign exchange.
Chude, also the Chairman, National Fertiliser Technical Committee, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
The registrar described the apex bank’s foreign exchange restriction move as inimical to food security in the country.
According to him, the high cost of the commodity is expected as CBN no longer provides foreign exchange to anybody wanting to import fertiliser or fertiliser blending materials.
“So, importers are currently expected to source for foreign exchange from open markets. Considering the high dollar to naira exchange rate, when these fertilisers are imported, definitely the prices are going to be very high,” he said.
Chude said that the ban on the importation of fertiliser by the CBN was on the premise that the country was capable of producing all the required fertiliser by the crops and soil.
“This was the basis for the introduction of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Apart from Urea fertiliser manufactured in the country, every other raw materials for local production of the commodity for the PFI has to be imported with the foreign exchange; but unfortunately, the CBN no longer grant FOREX request to importers.
“Some of the major fertiliser blending materials imported into the country are Di-Amonium Phosphate (DAP) which contains nitrogen and phosphorus; Muriate of Potash (MOP) that supplies potassium, is usually imported from Europe.
“So, you need Urea, Di-amonium Phosphate and Muriate of potash to produce NPK fertiliser; Zinc sulphate to supply zinc and sulphur and borax to supply boron.”
The professor said that out of these blending materials, the country could only produce urea, manufactured from natural gas, describing it as insufficient for proper crop production.
Chude said that other elements of the commodity were imported.
“There have been a lot of claims that Nigeria can produce all the fertiliser it requires, if the raw materials are there; yes.
“There are about 22 fertiliser Bulk Blending Plants in the country, but they need the right type of raw materials for them to operate; these materials are not available in the country except urea and limestone.
“The limestone serves as fillers; however, it supplies magnesium and calcium when applied on the soil.
“Since these raw materials are not available in the country, but have to be imported, the restriction of FOREX by CBN makes it very difficult and expensive to import,” Chude noted.
The registrar, however, urged the CBN to lift the ban on FOREX to enable importers to import the essential raw materials for the production of NPK fertiliser.
He said that such a measure would deter unscrupulous fertiliser producers from injecting fake commodity into the market.
“Such fake products are not only destructive to our crops, but also pose health hazard to the populace.’’ (NAN)