There is growing concern among farmers and other stakeholders in the country that the scarcity and high cost of fertiliser may pose a serious threat to food security,Daily Trust reports.

The high cost of fertiliser is pushing many farmers to seek cheaper, often adulterated, alternatives. Currently, a 50kg bag of NPK 20:10:10 sells for between N43,000 and N48,000, while NPK 15:15:15 costs between N50,000 and N56,000, depending on the location. In contrast, these bags were sold for between N25,000 and N26,000 in 2022. Urea, considered a cheaper option, is now being sold for between N36,000 and N40,000.

The Fertiliser Technical Working Group attributed the price hike over the past four years to a shortage of urea, a critical raw material for NPK blends.

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Dr. Innocent Okuku, Executive Secretary of the West African Fertiliser Association (WAFA), told Daily Trust that fertiliser consumption trends indicate that smallholder farmers, who produce most of the country’s cereals, are applying less fertiliser due to its high cost and limited availability. He highlighted a significant nitrogen gap that has reduced crop yields, urging government intervention.

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Dr. Okuku explained that farmers are substituting NPK with urea, which is problematic as both fertilisers play distinct roles in crop development.

Kabiru Ibrahim, President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), attributed the low fertiliser usage to its unaffordability. He noted that while there has been a slight reduction in urea prices due to pressure on manufacturers, more government intervention is needed.

A position document titled “Availability of Urea for Blending of NPK: A Matter of National Security,” signed by key industry figures including Sadiq Kassim of FEPSAN and Samuel Ali of the International Fertiliser Development Centre, stated that fertiliser consumption is far below potential due to a consistent urea supply shortage. The document recommended that the federal government ensure urea producers meet an annual supply quota for the local market and negotiate fair pricing reflecting local concessions.

The experts also suggested implementing an export tax penalty on urea producers who fail to meet local supply quotas. They warned that substituting urea with imported ammonium sulphate increases foreign exchange demand and soil acidity.

A recent food security analysis report by the FAO and WFP titled “Cadre Harmonisé” warned that the fertiliser scarcity might exacerbate food insecurity, projecting 26.5 million people could face acute hunger during the 2024 lean season.

Sadiq Kassim, President of FEPSAN, confirmed that despite Nigeria being a net exporter of fertiliser, domestic consumption remains low, potentially leading to a food security crisis. Kabir Umar Fara, Chairman of the Nigerian Agro Dealers’ Association (NAIDA), warned that unchecked operations of urea companies could result in a catastrophic food crisis and called for a government investigation into fertiliser price hikes.

At a press conference in Kano, Kassim and Fara criticized major urea companies like Dangote, Indorama, and Notore for depriving Nigerian farmers of fertiliser, alleging that much of the supply is smuggled out of the country.

In response, Dr. Jossy Nkwocha of Indorama blamed inconsistent gas supply for production issues, while Anthony Chiejina of Dangote Group attributed high fertiliser prices to global inflation and denied prioritizing exports over local supply.

Senator Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, acknowledged the fertiliser sector’s challenges and mentioned efforts to strengthen the local organic fertiliser system. He cited gas supply issues and the declining value of the naira as key factors driving up fertiliser prices.

Farmers in Kano State have resorted to using manure due to the high cost of agricultural inputs, with many reducing their farmlands or renting them out. Yahuza Dauda from Gwarzo Local Government Area and Shehu Faruku from Kura criticized the government for neglecting the agricultural sector.

Abdulrasheed Magaji Rimingado, Kano State Chairman of AFAN, lamented the lack of government support for farmers, emphasizing the need for affordable and quality inputs. He noted that smallholder farmers produce over 50% of the nation’s food and warned that neglecting them could lead to chaos in the sector. AFAN has secured a subsidy agreement with some fertiliser blending companies to support its members.


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