By Mustapha Ezekiel Dumbuya
The National Fertilizer Regulatory Agency (NaFRA) has held its first consultative meeting with Fertilizers Dealers at its Head Office on 55 Wilkinson Road Freetown on Monday August 1st, 2022. In his openning statement the Executive Director, Dr. Andrew Ba-Musa Koroma explained to the Dealers that one of the main reasons for the meeting was to open doors and start to build strategic relationship with fertilizer dealers in the country.
Dr. Koroma went further to state that the other aim was to be au-fait with their operations as fertiliser dealers to enable the agency effectively assit the fertilizer market in providing quality service to the farmers of Sierra Leone. He said he is expecting that all the issues that will be deliberated during the meeting, will be beneficial to the dealers, NaFRA, and the public at large.
The other reason for the engagemen, according to the Executive Director, was to talk on the provisions of the NaFRA Act especially on elements of fertilizer quality control. He gave a detailed background to the legal attributes that established the agency, the goal, the objectives, mandate, and functions of the NaFRA Act as empowered by Parliament to implement and enforce the provision of the act to enhance the promotion of a viable, environmentally friendly, sustainable and competitive fertilizer industry that can be integrated into national development programs aimed at attaining food security, poverty reduction, and agricultural commercialization. He further reiterated that the primary objectives of the agency are to implement policies on Fertilizer quality control to adderess low agricultural productivity associated with nutrient deficiency and soil infertility; and to promote market operations by facilitating the removal of trade barriers that impede national and international trade in fertilizer. He touched on exprertilizer quality control as an outcome of monitoring the standards established to safeguard the interest of farmers, safeguard the interest of fertilizer enterprises and contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for private sector investment in the fertilizer sub-sector. He emphasized the need for
fertilizer quality control because it promotes environmental sustainability (people, animals, plants and the natural habitat) against the potential dangers associated with inappropriate use of fertilizers. The Executive Director said a variety of information will be posted and updated on the NaFRA website, and therefore encouraged the fertilizer dealers to make use of the website as well as contact the agency for clarifications as needed
In highlighting fertilizer policy enforcement and compliance, Dr. Aloysius Beah, the Head of Fertilizer Quality Control, explained that no person or entity shall import, manufacture or distribute fertilizer in commercial quantities unless that person holds a license issued by NaFRA for such purpose. Dr. Beah warned that whosoever wishes to import, manufacture or distribute fertilizers in commercial quantity in Sierra Leone shall apply to NaFRA for a license for that purpose.
He added that the conditions and mandates relating to obtaining a license, its renewal, its suspension or withdrawal are specified in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the National Fertilizer Polich as interpreted and implemented by NaFRA; and that penalties and fines will be imposed upon violations of the provisions. Dr. Beah further explained the different offences which all dealers must be knowlegeable about as market actors.
Dr. Mathew Gboku, the Executive Director of Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) and a NaFRA Board member commented on the correlation between the use of quality fertilizers and the realization of the full benefits of improved technology. Mr. Babo, the National Coordinator of Farmers Association of Sierra Leone and NaFRA Board member, commented on importance of farmer education and the role of fertilizer dealers in the dissemination of educational information as a significant imput in promoting market operations.
Dr. Tom Roberts, the Board Chairman for NaFRA, concluded that this is something they have been looking forward to, advising all fertilizer dealers to get registered and get their licenses. He added that the agency is considering optional opportunities for easy payment of fees such software application systems where dealers can make payments for licenses and business registrations fees. He appreciated the effort been made by the dealers to attend the meeting and also stressed that the agency is always open and they are always ready to work at any time and any moment as long as it promotes the goal and objectives of NaFRA.
The Executive Director then opened to floor for Questions and Answers, thus giving the Fertilizer Dealers an opportunity to add their voice to the open discussion.
Overall, this first engagement of NaFRA with fertilizer dealers was applauded as a positive step in building rapport toward the cultivation of strategic relationships with stakeholders.