Many private companies are now applying to build fertilise plants, the minister said.
The Federal Government has said it is proposing a new Fertilizer Bill that will set a 7-year jail term for adulteration of fertilizer in the country.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwumi Adesina, while speaking after the federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan and attended by most Ministers.
Mr. Adesina said the bill, which is expected to sanitise the production of fertilizer, is being proposed to reposition Nigeria as a major hub of fertilizer in the West Africa sub region as the Economic Community of West African States plan to ensure unrestricted flow of fertilizer across the region.
“The draft bill is looking at the issue of quality control in the fertilizer sector. As you know that since we started the liberalisation of the fertiliser sector, there’s been quite a lot of private sector engagement in this particular space we have noticed overtime that we had challenges in terms adulteration of fertilizer in the system. You have a situation where nutrient composition is actually questionable over time, am talking of many years, it is actually quiet questionable sometimes. You also look at concerns about how this affects the environment because we are not actually sure sometimes what the quality of the fertilizers have been.
“It is very imperative that we protect farmers, make sure that the farmers are actually getting good fertilizers and that we are also protecting the environment.
“Penalties for adulterating fertilizers under the new Bill will be up to seven years, depending on the gravity of the offense while the bill will support the free movement of fertilizers across the Economic Communities of West African States,” he said.
Mr. Adesina noted that Nigeria is expected to make huge benefits from the proposed law as many private companies are interested in investing.
“The number of private companies that are coming into Nigeria now, even including local companies to manufacture fertilizers continue to increase.
“Dangote is going to put in about $3.5billion to set up what will be Africa’s largest plant, Notore which is already the largest producer of urea in Nigeria will be expanding that production with $1.3billion
“As this happens it means that Nigeria can become a main exporter of fertilizer and we have to have our eyes on the issue of quality control,” he said.