The Sun News

Presidency assures on timely release of ecological fund

…To distribute 4m fertilisers before year end

From: Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Presidency has assured that the Ecological Fund will be release to states on time to enable them address pressing ecological challenges in their localities.

It has also assured that through the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) will deliver four million bags of 50kg Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) fertilizer to farmers, at an affordable price, before the end of the year.

The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made the disclosure at the weekend on  Hannu da yawa, an audience participation programme on FRCN Kaduna.

He further pledged that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration  would continue to assist flood victims across the country.

“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.

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.

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

“Whenever there is an emergency from natural or man-made disasters, all you hear is ‘where is Buhari, what is he doing? What happens with the other tiers of government?

“Nigerians, at the state and local governments, should demand transparency and accountability in the management of ecological funds by their Governors and local government chairmen.

“Without accountability by local political leaders, the Federal government would continue to be the scapegoat for the failure of states and local governments to use ecological funds for the purposes they were released,” he said.

Speaking on the distribution of four million bags of fertilizer,  Shehu disclosed that the 11 fertilizer blending plants in the country will be increased to 18 by the end of the year; which will, in turn, provide direct employment to no fewer than 50,000 Nigerians.

According to him,  the projected delivery of the commodity (4 million bags of fertilizer) by December is in addition to the six million bags of 50kg fertilizers already sold to farmers since the Initiative commenced early this year.

“The problem of the shortage of fertilizers 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 fertilizers were purchased by State governments and agro-dealers across the country,”he said.

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

He added that the successful implementation of the PFI had made fertilizer 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 fertilizer 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.

Shehu also noted that a bag of maize which was sold at N21, 000 last year is currently 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.

The objective of the PFI, which was approved by President Buhari in December 2016, is to procure the 4 constituent raw materials for Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) fertilizer – locally-sourced Urea, locally-sourced Limestone granules (LSG), Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) imported from Morocco, and Muriate of Potash (MOP) sourced from Europe – and blend these locally to produce NPK Fertilizer at a much-reduced cost.

The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative is being executed by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) through a Special Purpose Vehicle that will roll out the one million tonnes of NPK Fertilizer in five batches of 200,000 metric tonnes each.

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