The Federal Government yesterday, disclosed that it has begun fertiliser importation from Morocco and the imported ones will arrive Lagos on Friday January 27, 2017.
This was stated by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, during an unveiling of a new food processing technology, which is the stainless grinding mill to protect health of Nigerians from food poisoning.
According to Ogbeh, the first shipment will see the commodity sold at N5, 000 per bag to farmers and there would not be problem with availability and accessibility.
He said: “With the dry season farming to commence soon we expect the first shipment of phosphate a major component of fertiliser shipment fertiliser from Morocco will arrive on Friday in Lagos. Then the blending will begin. Once the blending starts, in the course of the negotiation and the price of fertiliser will fall.
“We also want to ensure that every blender in the country that has the capacity is encouraged, even though the blending machines we have are not enough. We are bringing the price of fertiliser to N5, 000 per bag.
“We don’t only satisfy only Nigeria, we also supply our neighbouring countries that always come in and take a bit and we can’t deny them entirely but we must meet our need first.”
According to him, the target in fertiliser production is about 700,000 to 800,000 tonnes of fertiliser per annum.
It will be recalled that in December 2016, Nigeria and Morocco signed an agreement that will ensure the production of 1 million tonnes of fertiliser locally in 2017.
The agreement was anchored by the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria, FEPSAN, and a Moroccan company, OCP, during the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Morocco.
In safeguarding the health of Nigerians the Minister said the health of Nigerians has been endangered by the machines used in processing what they consume, particularly pepper, tomato, onion, bean, melon (egwusi) and others, being grinded with machines not made with stainless steel whose raw metal particles gets into the food and negatively affects the health of the consumers.
He said: “We are here to educate the public on the health concerns we have now. This Ministry is supposed to do what it can to produce food for Nigerians, and food is supposed to be something that strengthens our health. Food can be a source of health and can also be a poison.
“This is stainless steel grinding machinery, it does not pose danger to the health but you will see how it operates. This handles pepper and other vegetables. This machine is on the expensive side but is six side-grinder.
“We are worried about what they call metal poisoning, which is a very serious matter in the food we eat. We know that many of the things we grind in the market, which include pepper, tomato, onion, beans and other vegetables, using the grinders we have in the market now are sources that endanger our health as Nigerians.
“Many of these machines are of raw metals because they wear slowly into the food and when you ingest them they attack very important organs in the body. We find a lot of people coming down with kidney and liver failures, and nobody knows what is causing all these.”
Meanwhile, designer of the prototype stainless grinding machine, Managing Director, Niji Lukas Nigeria Limited, Kola Adeniji, said he made the prototype within a month, and explained that the parts of the electricity powered machine were sourced from Nigeria and the stainless material from abroad.