OCP Africa, one of the leading companies in the global production and exportation of phosphate-based fertilizers is working within the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and with blending plants under the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN), to contribute to the PFI objectives of providing access to locally produced NPK 20:10:10 fertilizer for smallholder farmers.
The palliatives intervention is aimed at supporting smallholder farmers across several states of Nigeria in order to mitigate the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the current farming season through ensuring distribution and access to subsidized fertilizers and other farm inputs, and also training and extension services, access to markets, and access to digital technology, all in a bid to increase crop yield and ensure food security as the 2020 farming season commences.
At the kick-off in Kaduna State where 20,000 bags of fertilizers were distributed to 10,000 smallholder farmers, OCP said the palliatives underscore its commitment to the Federal and State governments of Nigeria in its drive to curtail the spread and adverse effect of COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
Speaking at the flag-off, the Regional Commercial Manager, OCP Africa, Mr. Solomon Tanko said OCP Africa is supporting each farmer to access two bags of The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative blended NPK 20:10:10 at N4,500 per bag as against the recommended N5,000 per bag.
Tanko, who listed the first batch of the benefiting local government areas in Kaduna as Igabi, Kauru, Kachia, and Jaba said, “Besides providing fertilizer to farmers, OCP Africa will provide training on GAP to 1,000 lead farmers, who will further cascade down the training to 9000 farmers, making all of them beneficiaries of the project.
“To ensure that this GAP training is adopted, OCP Africa has engaged the services of a private consultant working with our partner, the Kaduna Agricultural Development Agency (KADA) to carry out monitoring and evaluation that will guarantee good yield’’.
He said that eight extension agents under Kaduna Agricultural Development Agency and four agripromoters would be supported with motorbikes and tricycles to facilitate extension services for the smallholder farmers in farming communities within the four Local Government Area in Kaduna state.
“We are confident to say that the COVID-19 intervention shall create 84 direct jobs in the four LGAs, aside from the countless indirect jobs that will be created along the supply chain for the people of Kaduna state from loaders, security, storekeeper and extension agents’’, he asserted.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Kaduna State, Hajia Halima Lawal, commended OCP Africa for the intervention and called on farmers in the state and beyond to utilise the opportunity.
The State Coordinator of OCP Africa, Mr. Isaac Odey said the planned palliatives would support smallholder farmers to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security.
Odey said, “In choosing to initiate the COVID-19 response, OCP Africa saw a need to partner with governments at federal and states levels at ensuring that the agricultural sector is supported during this global pandemic and national food security is guaranteed.
“However, the need to support the livelihood and productivity of rural smallholder farmers in this difficult period is uppermost in OCP Africa’s strategy which particularly supports the many efforts of government in ensuring not only an agric-revolution but also food security’’.
He said that under the COVID-19 response initiative, OCP Africa would be reaching over 50,000 smallholder farmers across 11 states of Nigeria through setting up of over 25 outlets situated within agricultural producing zones for the major food supply chains, which include maize, rice, sorghum, tomatoes and soybeans to create 525 direct jobs for people in the communities.