The Federal Government has warned that starting from January 1st 2023, any person found guilty of adulterating or diverting fertilizer in Nigeria will spend up to 10 years imprisonment without an option of bail.
Ishaku Ardo Buba, the Deputy Director of Input Use and National Agriculture Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket, Department of Farm Input Support Services of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, stated this on Tuesday at the Zonal Sensitization Workshop for Fertilizer Quality Inspectors and other Relevant Stakeholders on the Provision of the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019, and the Regulations 2020 and Promotion of Organic Fertilizer Preparation and Use at the Local Level using Eco-Friendly Agricultural Technologies.
He warned that the law in place now is very stringent and applies to anyone found guilty. He urged fertilizer merchants and producers to obtain certificates to avoid their business premises being sealed off.
“Our warning to adulterators is that time has passed when you can do whatever you want, now the law is in place and the law is stringent, it doesn’t respect who you are, as far as you are involved in any case of adulteration or diversion, the law will take its course on you, it is up to 10 years imprisonment without option depending on the degree of the offence.
“We have been sensitizing, that is why we have given a date of 1st January this year, once you don’t have our sales permit or certificate of registration, you don’t operate in Nigeria and we can detect in the case of someone who wants to fate the certificate, there is no way you can fake it.
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“We have asked all the security agencies working with our inspectors to seal any premises that did not display a copy of the certificate of registration or sales permit. The certificate of registration is for the input producers, particularly fertilizer and sales permit is for the distributors, so once you get it, you paste a copy, and the inspector can be able to confirm if it is genuine using the barcode on it,” he said.
He said one of the reasons for the workshop is to enforce the provision of the Act to ensure that anybody within the system produces what is required and it is based on a set standard.
“We also have another law covering the West African region of which Nigeria is a member. We have endorsed that any product produced in Nigeria can be sold freely in West African countries.
Speaking further on the purpose of the workshop, Buba said “here we selected one inspector from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to train them on certain new developments. We have trained them before but at any time, we are evolving, we are bringing in new innovations on board.
“We are trying to teach farmers how to use local resources in their localities like plant residues so that they can convert it into nutrients, it will give the farmers free nutrients because these materials are gotten free.
“So, we are training our inspectors how to teach farmers how to use leaves and other residues to produce fertilizers locally.
Speaking on the recent flooding that affected many farmers, he said that after the assessment of the flood, farmers who were affected would be captured by the Farm Input Support Services department and necessary assistance will be rendered.
“We will register these farmers according to their operational sizes, instead of giving them financial assistance; we will give them inputs and assist them so that they can plant for the dry season in order to bridge the gap of what they have lost.
“It means we are trying to promote the dry season farming which is dependent on irrigation, we have a lot of dams across the country which we can explore, we provide them with water pumps, we work in synergy with other departments in the Ministry in order to support farmers, we are still awaiting the outcome of the assessment that is currently ongoing”, he added.