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With adulterated fertilisers, bumper harvest under threat

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
16 April 2023   |   4:47 am
It may no longer be news that the price of fertiliser has reached a record high N28,000, from the initial price of N15,000, what is however new is the danger posed by adulterated fertilisers in circulation.


It may no longer be news that the price of fertiliser has reached a record high N28,000, from the initial price of N15,000, what is however new is the danger posed by adulterated fertilisers in circulation.

According to experts, aside from reports that adulterated fertiliser does not add value to the soil nutrients; it is also the major cause of stunted growth of crops, contributing majorly to the menace of low yield bedeviling farmers.
Investigations showed that adulterated products have been in circulation for many years, but it has become a commonplace across the country today, basically due to the growing number of ‘illegal’ fertiliser producers.
An Agriculturist and Chief Executive Officer of Bama Farms, Lagos, Wale Oyekoya, who said the menace was reduced to the barest minimum about five years ago, said it resurfaced in 2022.
He said: “Adulterated fertilisers have been in the market for some time now and the government is well aware of it, as they were imported into the country through our manned borders. We raised this issue five years ago; it was reduced in circulation, but later resurfaced last year.” 
Oyekoya noted that the adulterated fertilisers are very difficult to identify by farmers, especially the local farmers as it is always sealed. “While some of these fertilisers are mixed with ashes, some are mixed with sand. Some were imported directly and look like synthetic rubber.

“Adulterated fertilisers affect farmers, it does not add value to the soil nutrients and it stunts the growth of crops, while some even kill the plants completely, bringing low yield to the farmers.”
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, Green Saharan Farms, Jos, Plateau State, Suleiman Dikwa, confirmed that there has always been adulterated fertilisers in the market, adding that the best way to know is by testing in the laboratory.
“However, where it is badly put together, it brings out different colours and also foul odours. The type of fertiliser will indicate whether it is fake or not. Information available in the public domain indicated that the adulterated fertilisers came through government procurement and was released into the market.
To put a permanent end to the circulation of these adulterated produce, Dikwa urged all farmers to always buy from accredited dealers and “where a rogue dealer is identified, the individual should be reported to the company and relevant authorities. Entities such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) should be proactive in identifying and informing the public and the heinous act.”
On his part, Oyekoya, said if the country can produce its own fertilisers and market it to the farmers through the ministry of agriculture or government licenced contractors, circulation of the adulterated products can be curbed, adding that the price must also be affordable to the farmers.
To curb this act, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), has vowed to severely punish the adulterators with 10 years imprisonment, in line with the provisions of the National Fertiliser Quality Control Act, 2019 and the Regulations, 2020.
The Director, Farm Inputs Support Services Department (FISSD), under the agric ministry, Kwaido Sani, who disclosed this recently on behalf of the Deputy Director, FISSD, Ishaku Buba, during a training in Abuja, said: “At times it is not the issue of quantity, but the issue of quality. So that is why we now have this National Fertiliser Quality Control Act so that anybody producing or distributing in Nigeria and distributed in line with the set standards in terms of quantity and quality.
“So that is why we are here to enforce the provisions of the Act to ensure that anybody within the system produces what is required and is based on set standards.
“Our warning to adulterators is that time has passed where you can do whatever you want. Now the law is in place and the law is stringent, it does not respect who you are, as far as you are involved in any cases of adulteration, diversion and what have you, the law will take its course on you and it is very severe, it is up to 10 years imprisonment without option depending on the degree of the offense.
“And we have been circulating and sensitising, we have given a deadline from January 1, 2023, once you don’t have our sales permit, or certificate of registration you don’t operate in Nigeria.”
But Dikwa criticised the legislation, describing it as “re-inventing the wheels. We already have bodies responsible for quality control such as the SON, so what is the need for the act? Moreover, at a time the world is transitioning away from synthetic or chemical fertilisers, our focus should be on how we can regenerate our agriculture and soil through natural means.
“Available studies showed the dwindling return of our land due to use of synthetic fertiliser and the nitrogen build up in our water systems tied to rising health problems. There is also the issue of competitive advantage we have in regenerative agriculture.
“I find any legislation or regulation not tied to this grand transition with the global climate challenge as retrogressive and primitive so to say.”
But Oyekoya differs on this. According to him, the legislation will deter adulteration if the law can be implemented to the fullest. “Something drastic needs to be done as it’s affecting our food security.”