OCP Africa develops specialised fertiliser to boost wheat production
OCP Africa, a global leader in the production and exportation of phosphate-based fertilizer, in its avowed commitment to support the development of Nigeria’s agricultural ecosystem has partnered with research institutions in Nigeria to grow wheat production by developing a specialized fertilizer for wheat.
The organisation has partnered with research institutions in the country such as the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), The Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IART) and BUK- to increase wheat production in Nigeria beyond the abysmal 5 percent of local consumption.
Caleb Usoh, country manager and deputy managing director, OCP Africa at a recent two-day inception workshop organised to mark the start of the project themed ‘Soil Mapping and Fertility Evaluation for Formulation and Validation of Wheat specific Fertilizer in Nigeria’, held in Kaduna recent said his organisation took the mandate to grow local Wheat production after the Kaduna State Ministry of Agriculture beckoned on them in 2020 for assistance with soil testing.
Usoh who was represented by Akin Akinwande, business development manager disclosed said the partnership subsequently led to the development of bespoke fertilizer for about 142,000 hectares cleared for wheat production in the Birnin Gwari area of the state.
He said OCP felt challenged because of the enormity of work involved. ‘’Wheat production in Nigeria is faced with several problems which include and may not be limited to the following: poor access to improved seed varieties, inappropriate fertilizers & agrochemicals, poor irrigation systems, lack of funding for wheat research systems and poor knowledge of wheat agronomy,” he said.
He said on the realization that it was a call in the right direction for the phosphate fertilizer giant, and as part of the strategy to leverage collaboration to develop the nation’s agriculture ecosystem, the company called on their research partners to respond to the call with them.
He also calls on all stakeholders in agriculture – governments, donor and developmental agencies, farmers, and the farming community, to support the laudable project that requires collective efforts to achieve the desired result.
In his paper presentation on the Status of Wheat Research and Production in Nigeria, Oluwasina Olabanji, former executive director at LCRI said, Nigeria requires 5.1 million tons of wheat grain annually, but presently produces only 300,000 metric tonnes (2017) and thus depend on imports to meet the huge deficit.