Fertilizer is one of the major farm inputs for achieving the green revolution the objective in the world. According to Dada (2006), during Africa Fertilizer Summit, it is generally believed that not less than 50% of incremental crop output in the past five decades is attributable to fertilizer use.
Owing to fertilizer use, along with other inputs such as seeds and agrochemicals, many countries of the world with high population densities have been able to achieve, relatively, food self-sufficiency in the past decades (World Bank, 2004).
Unfortunately, the benefits of the green revolution did not accrue significantly to sub-Saharan Africa to any perceptible extent due, among other reasons, to inadequate use of fertilizer (FGN, 2005).
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates of fertilizer need in Africa concomitant to yield and area expansions for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) amount to an increase in total nutrients of 47% or 26% average annual growth rate (UN, 2000).
This is why members of New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) of the African Union (AU) had formulated the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) predicated on increased and efficient use of fertilizer. The components of CAADP are consistent with the global objectives set in the MDGs, as well as the national objectives of Nigeria, contained in the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) document (NEEDS, 2004). The critical aspect of the MDGs in relation to the fertilizer sector is the goal to reduce poverty by half by 2015, taking cognizance of the role of agriculture in the economy wherein about 70% of the people are employed or engaged (Dada, 2006).
The role of fertilizer is well established all over the world; crop output of countries correlate strongly and positively with fertilizer consumption: World average = 91kg/ha; North America = 93kg/ha; Western Europe = 186kg/ha; South Asia = 96kg/ha; East Asia = 201kg/ha; All Asia = 141kg/ha; Africa = 19kg/ha; Nigeria = 8kg/ha (IFDC, 2003; Idachaba, 2006). But the FAO recommended 200kg/ha; therefore, the need for Nigeria to redouble fertilizer use, improve agricultural production and productivity and raise rural income in the face of a rapidly growing population and worsening poverty incidence has become obvious (Idachaba, 2006).
Okolo (2004) described the fertilizer supply in Nigeria as still inadequate. This accounts to some extent for its low usage. One a major impetus to fertilizer usage is an improvement of the fertilizer market. Olomola (2005) stated that there is a need to improve the agribusiness market structure and performance.
Since the establishment of a ministry for agriculture at the Federal level in 1967 followed by the creation of the first professional department (Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA), in the ministry in 1970, the promotion of fertilizer and other green revolution technologies have become a deliberate government policy (Bello, 2006). The institutional policy on fertilizer involved the subsequent establishment of the erstwhile Fertilizer Procurement and Distribution Division (FPDD), which was established in the FDA in an effort to coordinate the activities of the states in the importation of fertilizer (Dada, 2006).
For many years, the FPDD served as the central agency for fertilizer importation and it's delivered to designated points in the country till the liberalization of the sub-sector began in 1995 following which the the division was re-designated as Federal Fertilizer Department in 2001. During this period (1976-1995), the main statute in force was the National Fertilizer Board Act of 1977 which provided for the establishment of “a body corporate to be charged with the responsibility for purchasing and distributing fertilizer to state government at such subsidized prices as may be determined by the Federal Government” (FFD, 2006b).
Generally “Fertilizer” means any substance containing one or more recognized plant nutrient(s) that is used for its plant nutrient content and is designed for use or claimed to have value in promoting plant growth (FFD, 2006a)
Specifically, “mineral fertilizer” means fertilizer produced by mineral processes or mined and derived from an organic substance or synthetic organic substance; while “organic fertilizer” means fertilizer derived from non-synthetic organic material, including sewage sludge, animal manures and plant residues produced through the process of drying, cooking, composting, chopping, grinding, fermenting, or other methods and makes a declaration of nutrient value on the label (FFD, 2006a).
Cereals are those members of the grass family, Poaceae has grown for their characteristic fruit, the caryopsis, which have been the most important sources of the world’s food for the last 10,000 years ( Onwueme and Sinha, 1991). Wheat and barley are the oldest cultivated cereals. Their cultivation started in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia some 10,000 years ago, this region now include parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran ( Onwueme and Sinha, 1991).
The major cereal crops in Nigeria are rice, maize, sorghum, millet, wheat, pearl, sugar cane and fonio millet with rice ranking as the sixth major crop in terms of the land area while sorghum account for 50% of the total cereal production and occupies about 45% of the total land area devoted to cereal production in Nigeria ( NEARLS, 1996 ).