Food Security: Fed Govt Partners Morocco-Based Firm On Fertiliser

Filed in News by on August 22, 2018

The Federal Government is encouraging the Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) to establish fertiliser production plants in some parts of the country to boost agriculture. DANIEL ESSIET writes on the partnership that will boost food production.

MORE international supports are pouring in for the Federal Government’s diversification policy. A fertiliser production plants are to be established in some parts of the country by the Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP), a major integrated phosphate producer.

The government is banking on the mining and agriculture sectors to diversify the economy for oil.

The plants are to boost agricultural development and fertiliser utilisation by indigenous farmers, the firm, based in Casablanca, Morocco, said while reiterating its commitment to enhance partnership with Nigeria and other African countries to ensure food security.

OCP’s Managing Director Mustapha El Ouafi, told reporters that local farmers will benefit from fertiliser production projects in terms of technical expertise and capacity building.

According to him, the OCP has taken immediate action to rehabilitate the fertiliser industry in Africa and working with the government to rehabilitate infrastructure, provide internal and external training programmes for players in the industry.

He confirmed that his company has an agreement with the Federal Government to develop a major fertiliser production and distribution hub, adding that the products would be sold in the Nigerian market.

El Ouafi said: “We are happy to be part of Nigeria’s agricultural development and fertiliser utilisation initiatives. Our goal and aspiration are to make the desired results realisable.

“We want to be the laboratory of fertiliser of the future which is crucial to the development of agriculture in Africa and the world at large and we’ll continue to work hand-in-hand with the Nigerian government and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector as it is a known fact that Nigeria is one of the major hubs of agriculture in Africa and as a matter of fact, the world as a whole.”

The OCP chief said it was imperative to enhance the use of fertiliser to meet the food demands of the fast-growing world population in the face of diminishing arable land per capita.

Projected to be the world’s first phosphates exporter by 2020, the OCP, which has gained more market share, plans to boost its fertiliser production in Nigeria.

The new partnership will be through the construction of a new unit with a yearly production capacity of 1.2 million tonnes of fertiliser.

El Ouafi, informed that the OCP will collaborate with agricultural research institutes to carry out research on soils in order to determine the right type of fertiliser, saying “only this can only guarantee quality and improved yields for farmers.”

Given the state of agriculture development in Nigeria, El Ouafi spoke of the need for an exchange of knowledge and technology transfer.

He explained that the company, which started as a government mining company, exploring the country’s rich phosphate deposit, has evolved to become a vertically-integrated agriculture company, moving up the value chain into manufacturing and distribution of fertiliser.

The managing director attributed OCP’s global reputation to an expanding global population and an increasing demand for phosphate and other products.

He said that Morocco was doing well in agriculture and has developed great expertise in fertiliser and solar technologies.

OCP as a global player

The company is a leading player in the industry with the promotion of highly efficient and environmentally-friendly fertiliser. Its products not only reduce the pollution of soil nutrients and improve their efficiency, but help to diminish pesticide use – the conditions for sustainable farming.

The OCP Group has a three-phased production link that relies solely on the use of advanced technology. The first is the raw material – phosphate, which is extracted from the mine located in Khouribga, a town in Southwest of Morocco.

The raw material is then transported through pipelines to the industrial facilities also located in Khouribga for thorough washing.

After the completing the process, the washed phosphate product is transported through a world-class underground 200-kilometer pipeline from the Khouribga facility to the Jorf Lasfar processing plant where it will be processed into fertiliser and series of phosphate-based products and derivatives for local use and for international exports.

The Nigerian partnership

The various agreements between the Federal Government and Morocco are yielding results for both countries.

Morocco and Nigeria signed three cooperation agreements. One of such deals was signed during President Muhammad Buhari’s visit Morocco for a strategic Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline.

The 5,600-kilometre pipeline will give Africa a new economic, political and strategic dimension.

Another was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the OCP Group and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for the development of an industrial platform for the production of ammonia and related products.

The other was an agreement in the field of agricultural vocational training and technical supervision between the agriculture ministries of the both countries for joint development of agriculture and fisheries in Western Africa.

It was learnt that the OCP Group has signed MoU with the Dangote Group for the construction of a fertiliser production platform which will be powered by gas from Nigeria and phosphate provided by OCP.

During his visit to King Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Benguerir, Morocco, Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar, secured a consent for the building of a new fertiliser plant in his state.

More than 30,000 farmers are to benefit from the Bauchi State government collaboration with the OCP Africa School Project, involving instant mobile soil analysis to determine the suitable fertiliser to increase yield.

Bauchi, alongside three other states, entered into the agreement with OCP Africa for the school laboratory project.

Relationship with stakeholders

In 2016, OCP and the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) signed a MoU to strengthen Nigeria’s agriculture industry.

The MoU was signed at the State House in Abuja when King Mohammed VI visited President Buhari.

The MoU has detailed contributions to the agricultural sector through the supply of fertiliser which are adapted to local oils and crops, while ensuring farmers’ access to continuous fertiliser supply.

The collaboration between OCP Group and FEPSAN covers a large array of issues relevant to the agricultural sector, including the implementation of fertilising solutions which can adapt to the soils and crops, market supply of fertiliser and support for local farmers.

Ammonia plant billed

for Niger Delta

For experts, the location of an ammonia plant in the Niger Delta will play a major role in agricultural growth in the region. Cheaper fertilising solutions are affordable to small holder and resource-poor farmers that make up about 80 per cent of the farming community in the region.

More than 2.2 million people in Niger Delta rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, but experts warn that stagnant and declining yields of major crops such as rice and wheat can be ultimately linked to declining investments in the sector.

The Federal Government plans to reduce by half the number of undernourished people in the region by raising agricultural productivity and alleviating poverty while protecting the region’s natural resources base.

The ammonia plant partnership project between Morocco and Nigeria is based on the integration of both countries’ natural resources – Morocco (phosphate) and Nigeria (gas) – for the production of fertiliser.

The initiative will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

A plant in Kaduna soon

As part of efforts towards the development of the agricultural ecosystem in Africa, OCP Africa reiterated its readiness to build a fertiliser blending plant in Kaduna State. The plant is to support government’s effort to boost agriculture.

Already, the Kaduna State government has provided land with titled documents for the early take-off of the fertiliser blending plant.

Under the agreement, OCP will provide the technical know-how and the expertise to help the state achieve its food security goals.


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