One of the leading fertilizer and agro-allied companies in Africa, Notore Chemical Industries Plc, is exploring partnership opportunities with the Kaduna State government towards investing in the state’s agricultural sector.
Speaking during a visit to the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, the management of the company, led by its Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Onajite Okoloko, said the good agricultural policies in place in the state caught the attention of the company.
Mr. Okoloko said apart from producing and selling fertilizers, Notore was also focusing on the entire agricultural value chain and how it can create a significant value by ensuring that farmers’ yields improve significantly.
“We have a genuine desire and interest in ensuring that we achieve food security in Nigeria. We believe that Kaduna State is the focal point for agriculture in terms of crops such as maize and soya bean production,” he said.
Mr. Okoloko disclosed that the company was teaching farmers and bringing best practice to farming activities across the country with over 3000 demonstration farms across the country.
“We have over 3000 demonstration farms where one-eighth of the hectares of land are split into two, right in the heart of the farming communities. The farmers farm on one half, while Notore best practices are used on the other half. We have the largest private sector extension services network in the country.
“If you look at some of Notore’s interventions, we are responsible for the onions explosion in Kebbi about five years ago where, after Notore’s intervention to fight the onion crisis, there was onions everywhere. We did the same thing in Jos with cabbage.”
Mr. Okoloko expressed his company’s genuine desire and interest in ensuring that food security is achieved in Nigeria, stressing Notore’s belief that Kaduna State is the focal point for agriculture in terms of maize and soya bean production.
He said Notore also has a subsidiary called Notore seeds, stressing that fertilizer, improved seeds and education must work together.
The Notore CEO explained that the company started growing high-breed seeds and commercialised it and currently has an out-grower scheme growing the seeds in Kaduna.
He said the seed initiative went on for two years from 2011 to 2013, growing maize out of Kaduna and rice in Kano. He however noted that this initiative was slowed down because of gas supply hitches which posed a challenged to the company’s fertilizer plant, a problem which has now been solved.
“We are going to fast-track and work with the government to see if we can grow our improved rice and maize seeds in Kaduna.
“We will invest aggressively under the food subsidiary by creating an outlet to guarantee the offtake from farmers when the output comes, and we will focus on rice and maize.
“Our focus is making sure that farmers get good quality fertilizer, ensuring that we can continue to build our seed business to ensure best practice among farmers and then creating an outlet for those crops, particularly rice and maize, so that we can put that into the country,” he said.
He noted that the company believes Kaduna is a viable center for all of these activities, stressing that the assurance that the agricultural policies of the State are solid, and the federal government’s agricultural policies are encouraging in such a way that they will support a business like this has given his company extra confidence to venture.
“With cooperation and the right partners, we will be able to do well here. We want you to think of Notore as a company that every time you hear the name, you think of all the good things we are doing and to also see us as a company that can be a viable partner in terms of pushing your mission and agenda for the agricultural sector in Kaduna,” he noted.
In his remarks, Mr. El- Rufai assured the company of all that is required to boost the agricultural sector in the state.
“I want you to know that whatever you want to do in Kaduna, if you let us know specifically, we will support you. If you want land to do your seed multiplication scheme, we will be happy to provide that. If you want us to organise farmers so that you do partnership with them, we will be happy to do that as well. If you need land to have distribution or outlet for the rice and maize, we will be happy to do it,” the governor promised.
He said Kaduna State is the leading producer of maize and soya beans in the country, adding that even though the state is not a big rice producer, two or three places have been selected to grow a lot of rice.
“We will be happy to work with you in all these areas – from the fertilizer, to blending to seeds and the food outlets you want to go into.
“All you need to do is to tell me what you want from the state in very specific terms and then we will have our investment promotion agency engaged with you and follow up on your behalf and deliver whatever you want.
“Every investment you make here means one or two jobs. That is what we care about. We have a very young population; 89 percent of the population of Kaduna state is below the age of 35. So, our biggest problem is youth restiveness. So, if we don’t get jobs for them or hope of a job in the near future, we will just be dealing with crisis every day.
“Whatever you want to do here, we will give you all the support and cooperation and make it as easy as possible for you to invest here and be comfortable here.”
The governor also presented the state development plans and sector development plans, saying they will find them very helpful in articulating whatever they want from the state government.