According to Reuters on Monday, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, said that he plans to buy phosphate from Morocco and potash from Congo Brazzaville in order to feed his planned fertiliser plant in Nigeria. He made this known without giving details of the deal.
This announcement by Dangote is a wakeup call for Nigeria, because it has huge deposits of untapped phosphate and potash all around the country. Nigeria only produces potash in small quantities which is used in food.
It is worthy to note that Morroco is the world’s third largest producer of phosphate, producing about 26,000 metric tonnes, while Congo Brazzaville and Ethiopia are the largest producers of potash in Africa.
According to a post by Alhaji Sani Dangote, president of the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria, despite the huge demand potential of 7-10 million metric tons per annum, availability of natural gas and the major ingredient for the production of nitrogenous fertilisers and phosphate rock deposits in commercial quantities, there is virtually no fertiliser manufacturing company in Nigeria today. Almost all fertilisers used in Nigeria are imported (either for direct application or blending). The lack of a national capacity to manufacture fertilisers which may persist for some years to come will definitely impact the quantity of fertilisers available to Nigerian agriculture.
Phosphate deposits in Nigeria
Phosphate deposits occur in four states in Nigeria, which include Sokoto, Edo, Imo and Ogun states. However, only the Sokoto and Ogun deposits are considered economically viable.
Recently, focus has been put on the growing interest in phosphate rocks and its usefulness in agriculture in order to enhance food production by local farmers in Nigeria. This is due to the scarcity and high cost of chemical fertilisers. Phosphate rocks constitute a vital component of agriculture as it contains additional minerals that are vital to the improvement of the soil’s chemical and physical composition. It is also a good supplement for animal feeds as well as a basic raw material for the production of phosphate fertilisers. This is why Dangote is planning to buy the mineral in large quantities for his fertiliser plant as it may also be used for the production of the Dangote Rice.
Potash mineral resources in Nigeria
Potash mineral resources can be found in four states in Northern Nigeria namely Borno, Jigawa, Katsina and Sokoto state. Potash is also a major component of producing fertilisers, it undergoes a process where the potassium chloride is separated from the mixture to produce a natural fertiliser. However, excessive potash fertilisers can increase the soil’s salt content.
Apart from potash and phosphate, other minerals found in Nigeria that can be used for agricultural purposes include limestone and gypsum.
Nigeria has great potential to become an agricultural exporting country, but over the years agricultural development has been neglected with the focus being only on oil. There is also the need to tap into the mining sector which equally produces minerals used to boost agricultural production.
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