By Emmanuel Afonne
Uyo – The Akwa Ibom Government says adequate arrangements have been made to ensure the state’s automated fertiliser blending plant comes on stream in 2018.
Richard Ekpe, Director of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Uyo.
He said the state had already gone into a Private Public Partnership (PPP) with a U.S. fertiliser and allied product company based in Georgia, for the establishment of the plant.
According to Ekpe, the establishment of the plant will complement the efforts of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) and the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) at ensuring the availability of fertiliser to farmers.
“Some of the facilities at our fertiliser warehouse are for the establishment of the blending plant.
“The infrastructure is already on ground, but the equipment is expected to arrive Akwa Ibom in the next one month for installation.
“We hope to start producing fertiliser in 2018,” Ekpe said.
According to him, the infrastructure for the fertiliser plant already sited in Abak when completed will have a storage capacity of 400,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser.
The director also said that the state government had formed a formidable team of extension workers to get feedback on challenges and needs of farmers through their various zones and cells.
He commended the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for its fertiliser initiative, noting that it had ensured an all-year-round farming in the state.
“We commend the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) for making fertiliser available and affordable for farmers in Akwa Ibom.
“Our governor is one of the first governors that keyed into this programme to assuage the needs of farmers and ensure they record high yields.
“We now farm all year round; moreover, the yield will be poor if fertiliser is not applied to crops to supplement the nutrients that plants need,” he said.
Ekpe, however, urged the Federal Government to consider expanding the scope by encouraging the production of other fertiliser types.
This, he said would encourage the planting of palm trees which needed the NPK 12-12-17+2MgO fertiliser for a high yield, instead of the generic NPK 20-10-10.
“In other words, the government fertiliser provided the necessary ingredients the farmers require for their crops, but they are yearning for other types,” Ekpe added. (NAN)