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Production of copper sulphate to boost agro-industries, save economy

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Copper sulphate. Photo: AMAZON

It has been disclosed that the production of copper sulfate in the country would boost agro-economy, industrial development, employment opportunities, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) significantly.

Raw Material Research and Development Council (RMRDC) said billions of naira leaking out of struggling Nigeria’s economy could be prevented through import substitution and home-grown production.

The agricultural industry accounts for more than half of the copper sulfate consumption globally, for it is primarily used in the production of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. 
 
It is also used as a raw material for the production of chromated copper arsenate, widely used in the production of wood preservatives that provide woods with insecticidal, fungicidal, and UV light reflecting characteristics.

Copper sulfate is used on a large scale across the globe in view of the multiplicity of its application and industrial uses.  As a result of this, the demand for the chemical is increasing yearly. 

The worldwide market for copper sulfate pentahydrate is expected to grow at a roughly 2.3% rate over the next five years, will reach $1.150 billion in 2024, from $1 billion in 2019.  

Director-General, RMRDC, Prof. Hussaini Ibrahim, disclosed that in Nigeria, the copper sulfate requirement is mostly met through importation despite its wide application across various industries.

“In view of the high level of building going on in the country, Nigeria expends more than N7 billion to import wood preservatives for use in the building and construction industry in 2018. Chromated Copper Arsenate preservatives can easily be compounded locally if the major ingredients, most especially, copper sulfate, is available,” a statement from the council boss said.

Also, the importation of herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides for use in the agricultural sector is high and on the increase yearly. To maintain a high level of land productivity, adequate production inputs such as fertiliser and pesticides must be applied.  This increases the import statistics as evidenced by increasing expenditure of foreign exchange on agro-inputs. The council argued that the country could save millions of forex if local production is explored. 

“The importation of laboratory chemicals and reagents into the country in 2018 was in excess of N20 billion. This is a reason to put in place necessary measures to facilitate local production of some of these chemicals, most especially copper sulfate, in view of its diverse applications,” he said.
 
On the strength of this, the council completed a pilot plant for the production of copper sulfate from copper scraps generated from industrial activities. The plant has a capacity of 1000kg per day.  

The pilot plant has been test-run and the products tested, the council said, unfolding plans to ensure the proliferation of the technology by interested entrepreneurs.  

“Sequel to the above, the council, in collaboration with National Research Institute of Chemical Technology, is working towards scaling up the project by increasing the capacity of the plant to five tonnes per day for commercialisation purposes,” he said.


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