Fertilizer, called Ajile in Yoruba (awakener of the soil), occurs in the form of solid, liquid or gas, supplies nutrients in known amount, to the plant. Since the 1937 demonstration of the efficacy of the Single Superphosphate (SSP) on cereal crops, coupled with several fertility studies at Ibadan, fertilizer had been used in Nigeria. Before this time, the utility of farm yard manure, put forward after experiments on leguminous crops in Ibadan, has portended enormous challenge because of its bulkiness and low mineral nutrient content. Even with the advent of a new, convenient procedure of fertilizer application, farmer rarely optimized the use until the 1980 FDA publication; Fertilizers and their application to crops in Nigeria.

With Head of State Obasanjo’s “Operation Feed the Nation” (OFN) came centralized procurement, pricing regulation, subsidy, and distribution of fertilizers. Two of the three companies commissioned to produce fertilizers domestically continued to import phosphoric acid, potash, phosphate rocks and sulphur. The National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON) based in Onne however has achieved 100 percent capacity utilization in the production of anhydrous ammonia from natural gas, but has been inadequate in meeting local or national demand. Surprisingly, fertilizers are relatively scarce in Nigeria due to inconsistent pricing, subsidy policies, and failed distribution systems.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer