Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Minister of State for Agriculture, has commended OCP Africa on its initiative to drive food security in the face of COVID-19 pandemic through the subsidization of over 100,000 bags of fertilizers to 50,000 smallholder farmers.
Shehuri who made this known at the inauguration of the OCP Africa post-COVID-19 intervention package to farmers across the country held in Nasarawa State recently said it is critical to have measures in place to avert the looming food crisis owing to the economic fallout of the pandemic.
He appreciated the company for supporting the government in providing palliatives to farmers across the country.
He said the firm working with Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) to contribute to the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) reveals the value it places in ensuring the survival of the agriculture sector of the country as farmers will be able to plant and harvest rich yields.
OCP, Africa’s leading producers, and exportation of phosphate-based fertilizers is working within the PFI of the government, and with blending plants under the FEPSAN to contribute to the PFI objectives of providing access to locally produced NPK 20:10:10 fertilizer for smallholder farmers.
Also speaking, Mohammed Hettiti, managing director, OCP Africa-Nigeria says the palliative is aimed at supporting smallholder farmers across several states of Nigeria 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.
He added that farmers will have access to 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.
Hettiti said the initiative underscores OCP Africa’s commitment to the Federal and State governments of Nigeria in the drive to curtail the spread and adverse effect of COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
‘’In choosing to initiate the COVID-19 response, OCP Africa saw a need to partner with governments at Federal and State levels at ensuring that the Agricultural sector is supported during this global pandemic and national food security is guaranteed,” he said.
“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 asserted.
Similarly, Caleb Usoh, country manager/deputy managing director, OCP Africa-Nigeria said under this COVID-19 response initiative, the fertilizer company would be reaching over 50,000 smallholder farmers through access to inputs, training and extension, digital technology support, and access to markets.
Usoh said in Nasarawa state specifically, 10,000 farmers would be reached through the outlets situated within agricultural producing zones creating direct and indirect employment and empowerment for a huge number of people spread around stock management, training, and extension service and produce offtake.