The fertilizer Act 2019 launched by the Federal Government, President Muhammadu Buhari which prohibits unauthorized activities of manufacturers, blenders of importers and distributors of fertilizer as defaulters to this Act will face 5-year jail term.
The Act also targets at safeguarding the interest of fertilizer enterprises and contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for private sector investment in fertilizer.
It also prohibits operating with expired permit or certificate; the use of destructive ingredients or harmful properties; conversion or diversion of fertilizer; obstruction of authorized officers; and sale of unbranded or misbranded fertilizer.
According to Professor Yemi Akinseye-George SAN who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja, stated that such offences include manufacturing, blending, importing or distributing of deficient fertilizer, lacking in plant nutrient specified in the First Schedule to the Act. While Others, are the manufacturing, blending, importing or distribution of unbranded or misbranded fertilizer; dealing in adulterated fertilizer; offers for sale fertilizer that is underweight; selling condemned fertilizer, and diverting or converting fertilizer, or flouting a stop-sale order .
Professor Akinseye-George, who unveiled the fertilizer Act to the general public, said the fertilizer landscape has attracted new entrants in recent times including about 5000 to 6000 agro-input dealers in seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals serving millions of farmers.
According to him, greater percentage of these agro-input dealers are unregistered and operate without a license, with inadequate technical and entrepreneurial skills.As a result, he said most of them sell products they have no clue about and are unable to provide proper advice to farmers.
He further said, the continued supply of fertilizer into the Nigerian fertilizer market without a functional legal and regulatory framework has led the farmers into buying adulterated products, underweight bags and other malpractices by unscrupulous fertilizer manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers.
As a result, he said most of them sell products they have no clue about and are unable to provide proper advice to farmers.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, who unveiled the Act at the event, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the quick ascent to the Fertilizer Act.
He said the present administration would protect the investments of farmers in the country through the provision of this regulatory framework.
Nanono said the framework was aimed at guaranteeing the supply and distribution of quality fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers across the country conveniently.
“As you may be aware, the journey for the establishment of Fertilizer Regulatory System for this country started as far back as 2002, passed through several processes and suffered many defeats but finally actualized in this current administration. The aspiration for the establishment of the Regulatory framework followed a fertilizer study that revealed a high prevalence of low-quality fertilizers in the country.
“It is important to note that the Fertilizer Act was enacted into law to safeguard and protect the interest of the entire fertilizer value chain players such as manufacturers, producers, blenders, importers, distributors and the end-user farmers in the following ways: For the manufacturers, producers, blenders, importers and distributors, the Act would provide enabling environment for fertilizer enterprises to grow, including protecting investments in the sector
“For the farmers, they are to be protected against access to nutrient-deficient and adulterated fertilizers as well as short-weight bags of fertilizers. This is to ensure that farmers get value for every kobo spent on buying fertilizers for farming. It is important at this point to emphasize that the fertilizer industry plays an important role in the nutrient cycle and therefore controls the accessibility (price and presence) and quality (composition) of the fertilizers. This Act, therefore, seeks to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from each Kg of fertilizer bought and used by the farmers in terms of nutrients composition and levels.
“There is also the growing concern about protecting our natural environment from harmful elements in fertilizers such as heavy metals which can be harmful to both soils and humans.
“The Act has prescribed roles and responsibilities for the stakeholders in the public and private sector in order to ensure compliance/popular participation for the smooth and effective implementation of the Act to achieve sanity in the fertilizer industry,” the Minister said.