Nigeria eyes fertilizer exports with $2.5 billion plant

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday inaugurated a $2.5 billion fertilizer plant with which Africa’s most populous country hopes to contribute to the global supply amid the impact of increasing prices in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Nigeria’s dependence on imported products in the agriculture sector will soon be a thing of the past,” the Nigerian leader said during the inauguration in Lagos, the commercial capital, of expectations from the Dangote Fertilizer Plant In addition to other agricultural initiatives including incentives to farmers.

With the global fertilizer market jolted, Nigeria Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said the inauguration of the plant is timely as it has “helped Nigeria to solve a perennial fertilizer problem.”

Agriculture is a lifeline for Nigeria’s economy, contributing 25.8% of its 72.3 trillion naira gross domestic product in 2021. However, farmers are sometimes constrained with limited supplies such as fertilizer and improved seedlings.

With the new fertilizer plant with a capacity of 3 million metric tons annually, Nigeria expects “a boom as fertilizer is now readily available in greater quantities and better quality,” said Buhari.

‘‘We expect the rise of a new breed of agropreneurs who will add value to farming and make the nation self-sufficient in food production,’’ he said, inviting many Nigerians to “now take up agriculture as a business.”

Fertilizer from the plant located in an industrial zone in Lagos will be exported to many countries including the U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico, said Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and owner of the plant, amid shock waves from Russia where an ongoing war with Ukraine has disrupted supplies.

Across the world, high fertilizer costs already threaten farmers amid sanctions on Russia, a major global supplier of fertilizer, where authorities in March urged domestic producers to temporary halt exports.

“The new plant will make Nigeria self-sufficient in fertilizer production with excess capacity to export to other African markets and the rest of the world,” said Dangote, adding that the plant will also “drastically reduce the level of unemployment” in the nation with 33% unemployment rate as of December 2020.

“Our goal is to make fertilizer available in sufficient quantity and quality for our teeming farmers, assuring greater agricultural output,” Dangote said of operations in the fertilizer plant.

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