The Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has said that the state is ready to support investments capable of developing the economic wellbeing of the people and uplift them from poverty.
Tambuwal said this at the groundbreaking ceremony of OCP Africa’s $13 million Sokoto Agricultural Centre of Excellence comprising a fertilizer blending plant with a production capacity of 200,000 MT per annum and training facilities for farmers, fertilizer blenders and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.
He said the state has one of the largest deposits of high-quality phosphate in Nigeria, which makes the establishment of the plant a big step towards making fertilizer readily available and affordable to all farmers in the state and the northern region.
OCP Africa, a subsidiary of the world’s leader in the phosphate industry and its derivatives, OCP Group, said the blending plant, which becomes operational in July 2021, has the capability to blend NPK with micronutrients.
This project will contribute significantly towards the achievement of the food security goals of the country. According to him, “Farmers are known to apply any available fertilizer to all plants but with the proliferation of modern blending plants in the country, specific fertilizer based on soil and plant needs can be made available.”
Also speaking at the event, the Deputy Managing Director of OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Ltd, Caleb Usoh, said facilities that will be at the blending plant include the modern NPK fertilizer blending equipment, process building/warehouse, administrative building, trailer park, other ancillary facilities and a one stop shop for farmers to access training and all farm inputs
Usoh said the Sokoto Agricultural Centre of Excellence, which will be developed on 10 hectares of land made available by the Sokoto State Government at Kalambaina industrial layout in Wamakko Local Government Area of the state, will provide direct jobs for 75 persons and also serve as a centre of training for fertilizer manufacturers, farmers and other members of the agricultural value chain.
He explained that siting the plant in Sokoto goes a long way in strengthening and expanding the relationship between the company and the government and people of Sokoto as other initiatives done in the state include the setting up of five one stop shops in Wurno, Goronyo, Tambuwal, IIIelah and Kware to enhance accessibility of inputs to farmers across the state.
Other interventions of OCP in Sokoto State included its COVID-19 palliative project where 8,453 farmers gained access to training and subsidized fertilizers at N4,500/50kg bag, the deployment of OCP School Lab Project; an innovative programme aimed at increasing the yields and income of smallholder farmers through mobile soil testing and effective agronomical trainings.
The company had also empowered 13 Agripromoters with motorbike/tricycles and electronic tablets to provide extension services across the state. Fertilizer blending provides a solution to farmers’ need to have the correct ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, potash, and micronutrients and with the increased use of soil analysis and scientific crop management, fertilizer blending is often the best solution to provide farmers exactly what their crops require.
The groundbreaking ceremony comes after lengthy discussions that started last year.
In November 2019, the Sokoto State government entered a business undertaking with OCP Africa in Morocco to enhance improved agricultural yield for farmers and ultimately, increase the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR).
Governor Tambuwal’s visit to Morocco marked the conclusive stage of a cooperation agreement with OCP for the establishment of a phosphate blending plant in the state and it was achieved by the state government, working in conjunction with the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF) which had earlier keyed into the initiative to tap into its phosphate deposits, in producing phosphorus-containing fertilizer to scale up productivity in the agricultural sector.
Earlier in October 2019, the Managing Director, OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Ltd, Mohammed Hettiti, led a team to Sokoto State to put the pact between the state and the firm in proper perspective, as a necessary step to realizing the laudable project.
Subsequently, Governor Tambuwal’s presence in Morocco served as the second leg in the process of sealing the partnership in line with previous agreements, thereby fast-tracking the project’s commencement as over the period in review, there had been various meetings between both parties.