Five years imprisonment awaits offenders, saboteurs in Fertilizer Act
The newly signed National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 has awarded a stiffer penalty of at least five years imprisonment for offenders. The Act, assented into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2019, prohibits unauthorised activities of manufacturers, blenders or importers and distributors of fertilizer.
The Act also stipulates the procedure for obtaining permits or certificate of registration; provide timeframe for issuance of authorisation by the prescribed authority; as well as establishment of grievance remedial mechanism where application is declined.
Speaking at the public presentation of the Act in Abuja yesterday, Prof Yemi Akinseye-George SAN said such offences include manufacturing, blending, importing or distributing of deficient fertilizer, lacking in plant nutrient specified in the First Schedule to the Act.
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.
Akinseye-George, who introduced the Act to the public, said the fertilizer landscape had attracted new entrants in recent times including about 5000 to 6000 agro-input dealers in seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals serving millions of farmers.
He said a large majority of these agro-input dealers were unregistered and operated without license, adequate technical and entrepreneurial skills. As a result, most of them sell products that they know next to nothing about. Hence, they were unable to provide proper guidance to farmers, he said.
He said the expansion of fertilizer supply into the Nigerian fertilizer market without a functional legal and regulatory framework had exposed the farmers to the danger of increasing cases of product adulteration, underweight bags and other malpractices by unscrupulous fertilizer manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers.
He said the increasing cases of malpractices demand a proactive response by stakeholders through proper implementation of the Fertilizer Quality Control Act and the regulations. These, he said, are to safeguard the interest of the farmers and Nigerians against nutrient deficiencies, adulteration, misleading claims and short weight.
The Act also aims to safeguard the interest of fertilizer enterprises and contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for private sector investment in the fertilizer industry.
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.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, who unveiled the Act at the event, said the president’s quick assent to the Fertilizer Act, showed the commitment of this administration to the agricultural sector.
Nanono said it was the desire of the administration to protect the investments of the teeming farmers in the country through the provision of this regulatory framework.
The minister said the framework was aimed at guaranteeing the supply and distribution of quality fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers across the country, at their doorsteps, at the right time, right place and right prices.
“As you may be aware, the journey for the establishment of Fertilizer Regulatory System for this country started as far back as 2002. It passed through several processes and suffered many defeats but finally actualised in this current administration. The aspiration for the establishment of the regulatory framework followed a fertilizer study that revealed high prevalence of low quality fertilizers in the country.”