By Adelola Amihere
As part of measures to ensure a sustainable fertilizer quality control system in Nigeria, aimed at safeguarding the interest of farmers and all players in the agricultural value chain, violators of the National Fertilizer Quality (Control) Act 2019 will face a stiff penalty of five years jail term with no option of fine.
According to the Act which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2019, “Any person who manufactures, blends, imports or exports, sells adulterated fertilizer is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of at least five years without option of fine”.
It adds that “A person shall not sell any fertilizer or fertilizer supplement that contains destructive ingredients or properties harmful to plant growth”.
The Act further provides that: “A person shall not operate or carry on business as a manufacturer, blender, importer or distributor of fertilizer in Nigeria with an expired permit or certificate of registration”.
Speaking at the public presentation of the Act in Abuja recently, Prof Yemi Akinseye-George SAN, said such offences include manufacturing, blending, importing or distributing of deficient fertilizer, lacking in plant nutrient specified in the First Schedule to the Act.
Others are the manufacturing, blending, importing or distribution of unbranded or misbranded fertilizer; dealing in adulterated fertilizer; offers for sale fertilizer that is underweight; selling condemned fertilizer; and diverting or converting fertilizer, or flouting a stop sale order.
Akinseye-George, who introduced the Act to the public, said the fertilizer landscape has attracted new entrants in recent times including about 5000 to 6000 agro-input dealers in seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals serving millions of farmers.
He said a large majority of these agro-input dealers are unregistered and operate without license, adequate technical and entrepreneurial skills and as a result, most sell products they have no clue about and are unable to provide proper advice to farmers.
On his part, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, who unveiled the Act at the event, said the quick assent to the Fertilizer Act by President Muhammadu Buhari shows the commitment of the present administration to the agricultural sector.
Nanono said it was the desire of the present administration to protect the investments of the teeming farmers in the country through the provision of this regulatory framework.
The Minister said framework is aimed at guaranteeing the supply and distribution of quality fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers across the country at their doorsteps, at the right time, right place and right prices.