The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) on Tuesday announced that it has awarded a $1.4 million(N574 million) co-investment grant to OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Limited (OCP Africa).

The hub, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said the grant would help boost specialised fertilizer production in Nigeria, in order to help farmers grow crops in commercial scale and support food security in the country.

This was disclosed in a statement by Michael Clements, Trade hub’s chief of party.

“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), a leader in the production of phosphate-based fertilizers, to install modern blending equipment within its fertilizer blending plant facility under construction in Kaduna State,” the statement said.

It said the top-in-class 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.

According to the statement, 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 statement highlights that the specialty blends of fertilizers have the capacity to increase farmers’ yields by 50 to 85 per cent per hectare depending on the crop.

Mr Clements said: “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.”

“Such policies contribute significantly toward achieving the food security goals in Nigeria, in line with the USAID Feed the Future initiative,” he noted.

Implementation plans

With the capacity to produce 120 metric tons per hour of these blends and store up to 10,000 metric tons, Trade Hub said the 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.

It explained further that in order to ensure that farmers in underserved markets have seamless access to these fertilizers and other quality inputs, OCP Africa will establish 36 of its one-stop-shop Farm & Fortune Hubs across 13 Nigerian states.

Also, the statement stated that 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.

Caleb Usoh, OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Limited, Country Manager, explained that; “Over the years, farmers in Nigeria have recorded poor farm yields due to the quality of fertilizers and other inputs at their disposal.

“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.”

Key expectations

Through this co-investment partnership, the statement said 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.

It said 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 per cent of these jobs will go to women and youth.

“The end goal of the project is to foster a thriving agricultural-business ecosystem in Nigeria,” it added.

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