Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Benue Agric Ministry Raise Alarm Over Fake Fertiliser

Trouble is currently brewing in the Benue State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources over 47 trucks of fake fertiliser abandoned in its warehouse since 2012 by the immediate past administration.

The incumbent government has reportedly drawn a battle line with Solab Engineering Company Limited, said to be the suppliers of the fertiliser following the latter’s refusal to evacuate the substance.

Conducting journalists round the ministry’s warehouse in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, James Anbua said he had written to the contractor to evacuate the fertiliser with immediate effect to enable them take delivery of new and genuine consignments.

Anbua explained that on assumption of office in July as a commissioner, he discovered that the immediate past administration had, in 2012, contracted Solab Engineering Company to procure 47 trucks of NPK and 14 trucks of UREA fertiliser for Benue farmers.

“While the 14 trucks of UREA was good and used, the 47 trucks of NPK fertiliser was just “chemicals,” he said.

According to the commissioner, further investigation and a series of tests by the state and federal governments revealed that the fertiliser was substandard. Consequently, the federal government reportedly directed the state Ministry of Agriculture not to give it out to farmers; hence the substance has been in the warehouse since then.

“The test carried out didn’t satisfy that the fertiliser was genuine; hence the federal government directed that the product should not be delivered to farmers. The previous government did not do anything about it.

“When I assumed office and saw a huge pile of the fertiliser, I wrote to the company to evacuate the product from the store to enable me use the place. But the company’s solicitor wrote back to the ministry, demanding an apology and compensation.”

The commissioner said the provoking reply propelled him to write another letter, insisting that the company should urgently remove their bad product to create space for the expected delivery of new consignments. He threatened to implore all legal means to ensure that the contractor complies.

Although he did not say how much the state has lost to the fake fertiliser, he, however, vowed to recover all the money spent to purchase the fake product. He revealed that henceforth, fertilizers would be purchased on proper contractual agreements instead of the usual practice where contracts were awarded to individuals.

Daily Trust could not reach the embattled contractor for his side of the story at the time of sending this report.

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