FG

Presidency: farmers to get four million bags of fertiliser before Dec

•Fed Govt saves $150m from local production
•’Ecological Fund will be timely released’

The Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) will deliver four million bags of 50 kilogrammes (kg) Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) fertiliser to farmers at an affordable price before the end of the year.

Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) Mallam Garba Shehu made this known on Hannu Ya Dawa, an audience participation programme on FRCN Kaduna.

According to a statement by a Deputy Director (Information), State House, Attah Esah, the presidential aide added that 11 fertiliser blending plants will be increased to 18 by the end of the year.

He said the new plants will in turn provide direct employment to no fewer than 50,000 Nigerians.

Shehu said the projected delivery of the bags of fertilisers by December is in addition to the six million bags of 50kg fertilisers already sold to farmers since the initiative commenced early this year.

He said: “The problem of the shortage of fertilisers and its attendant high cost plaguing the nation’s agricultural production, seemingly intractable for decades, have been resolved following the successful execution of the mandate of the PFI.

“Since the implementation of the initiative, the six million 50kg bags of NPK fertilisers were purchased by state governments and agro-dealers across the country,” he said.

The presidential spokesman noted that the production of locally-blended fertiliser had saved the Federal Government about $150 million this year, hitherto spent on foreign exchange; and N60 billion in budgetary provisions for fertiliser subsidy.

He said the successful implementation of the PFI had made fertiliser available to Nigerian farmers at affordable prices and in time for the 2017 wet season farming.

“Last year, Daily Trust newspaper reported that a bag of 50kg NPK fertiliser was sold at N10,900 in Benue State. Today, the same commodity is being sold at about N6,500 in different locations across the country, while the government-approved price is N5,500.

Quoting the same newspaper report, Shehu noted that a bag of maize, which was sold at N21,000 last year, is being sold at an average of N10,000.

“This is an indication that the initiative has enhanced food security as a result of the increase in food production. There is also a reduction in food-induced inflation while economic activities across the agriculture value chain are very impressive,” he said.

Shehu added that Buhari’s administration will ensure the timely release of the Ecological Fund to states to address pressing ecological challenges in their localities.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President pledged that the administration would continue to assist flood victims across the country.

Shehu said: “The Buhari administration will under no circumstance abandon its humanitarian obligations to alleviate the distress of flood victims.

“In spite of Nigeria’s technological limitations and the paucity of funds to handle or manage large scale and complex emergencies, the APC administration will leave no stone unturned in offering succour to victims of natural disasters across the country,” he said.

On the Ecological Fund, Shehu said it is the right of citizens to demand the judicious use of the Fund, which is distributed among the three tiers of government from the Federation Account.

“The largest chunk of the Fund goes to the states and local governments. Every month, States and Local governments receive 1.4 per cent from the Federation account as Ecological Fund, compared to the Federal government’s share of 1 per cent.

“From the 1 per cent the FG gets, NEMA takes 20 per cent for its operation,” he said.

The Presidential aide noted that lately, disaster management in the country is gradually being ceded to the Federal Government by other tiers of government.

Shehu said the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation has also been mandated to step up the provision of relief infrastructure to those in need.

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