By Adeola Ajakaiye, in Kano
The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has awarded a $1.4 million co-investment grant to OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Limited (OCP Africa) to install modern blending equipment within its fertilizer blending plant facility under construction in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
The blending equipment will help bridge the gap where there is a paucity of specialized fertilizers to grow crops on a large scale and support food security in the country, a statement made available to businessamlive.com on Tuesday indicated.
The planned facility and equipment will produce various fertilizer blends customized to the needs of rice, maize, soybean, cassava, tomato, and other staple crops grown in Nigeria. The specialty blends of fertilizers have the capacity to increase farmers’ yields by 50 to 85 percent per hectare, depending on the crop.
With the capacity to produce 120 tph of these blends and store up to 10,000 t, OCP Africa expects at least 75,000 of targeted smallholder farmers within the catchment area of the plant to benefit from the blending plant’s operations and associated agronomy support services. To ensure that farmers in under-served markets have access to these fertilizers, OCP Africa will establish 36 of its one-stop-shop Farm & Fortune Hubs across 13 Nigerian states.
As part of its co-investment, OCP Africa will provide the targeted 75,000 farmers with a wide range of agricultural services, including training on good agricultural practices and soil testing.
“Over the years, farmers in Nigeria have recorded poor farm yields due to the quality of fertilizers and other inputs at their disposal,” explained Caleb Usoh, country manager for OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Limited.
“The production and distribution of blended fertilizers combined with the training will help farmers produce better quality crops as well as increase their yields, which will lead to higher earnings and better returns for their farming business,” he added.
Through this co-investment partnership, 826 jobs are expected to be created, including jobs for workers at the new facility, trainers, and those tapped to run the one-stop shops. Also, in support of the Trade Hub’s goal to ensure that traditionally marginalized groups have equal access to job opportunities in the agricultural sector, at least 50% of these jobs will go to women and youth.
“This project is quite a unique one, and we are excited to partner with OCP Africa to complement the Nigerian government’s policy to leverage locally available resources to expand food production capabilities,” said Michael Clements, chief of party of the Trade Hub.
“Such policies contribute significantly toward achieving the food security goals in Nigeria, in line with the USAID Feed the Future initiative,” he added.
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