Govt to produce fertilisers to support farmers– Agric minister

The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has hinted of the government’s plan to commence local production of fertilisers to cushion smallholder farmers in the country.

The move is to ensure the availability and easy accessibility of the compost to smallholder farmers in the country.

It is also to compliment the implementation of the government’s fertiliser subsidy programme (FSP), which is aimed at boosting agriculture productivity and the improvement of the living conditions of smallholder farmers in the country.

The minister was responding to concerns of peasant farmers and suppliers during his engagement with them in the Bono East Region on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

The farmers had raised concern over the shortage of fertilisers, which they say was affecting productivity, while the suppliers also bemoaned the delay in the payment of subsidy to them.

This also comes amid recent revelation of smuggling of the compost particularly in the northern part of the country by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) through its 2020 Monitoring of Fertilisers report.

He assured them of the government’s effort to curtail the problem they faced, and said, “Currently, we do not produce fertilisers here in Ghana, but the president is in talks with the leaders of Morocco to install a plant in the country for the production of fertilisers. Until then, we have to import the fertilisers.”

Dr  Afriyie Akoto  explained that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prices of the imported fertilisers have gone up, in addition to high cost of shipping, thereby the prices of the fertilisers expensive.

“That is why it is nowadays it is difficult to access fertiliser everywhere, so you have to pay before the importers give them out. Because of this situation, we cannot give them out free,” he said.

According to the Head of Programmes and Advocacy for PFAG, Charles Nyaaba, despite the ministry’s provision of some fertilisers to farmers, it was inadequate for them.

According to him, his tour to members of the Association in the northern parts of the country including the Upper East and West has shown serious shortage of fertilisers to farmers, noting that, “the situation is that bad.”

He said, “We realised that there is a serious shortage and farmers are even willing to pay higher prices because there is fertiliser available in the market. Even the open market fertiliser is not available.”

The situation, Mr Nyaaba attributed to the inability of suppliers to import the compost because of lack of funds to do so.

“Our checks suggest that most of the importers that the government gave them the contract to supply could not bring it because the government owed them for what they supplied last year. So, we have about only three companies were able to bring fertilisers into the country.”

He added that, the suppliers have lamented that they would run at a loss should they sell the fertilisers at the price quoted to them by the government, and it has affected them in giving margins to retailers to bring the fertilisers to farmers.

“The ministry gave me some trucks to supply to the farmers. The moment the trucks came, they queued from 6am to 8pm to get the fertilisers to buy, and it could not even serve 10% of the farmers who were around,” he explained.

He continued, saying, ‘this is the period for us to apply the fertilisers (on the farms). Fertiliser is time bound; if the crops need the fertiliser, and you do not apply it, and you do it later, it will be useless.”

READ ALSO: Support Security Agencies To Stop Fertiliser Smugglers – Akufo Addo Tells Chiefs

Meanwhile, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has appealed to the Chiefs and people of Nandom in the Upper West Region to support the security agencies in the region to curb the smuggling of subsidised fertilisers to farmers.

This, he said, would ensure sustainable production and lessen the burden that farmers incurred by buying fertilisers at high cost.

President Akufo-Addo said this when he addressed the Chiefs and people of Nandom, as part of his two-days working tour in the upper west, which ended on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

“I would like to make an appeal to you, and the other divisional chiefs and elders who are here, to enhance your cooperation with the security agencies, so we can stop the smuggling of fertilisers from Ghana to our neighbouring countries,” he said.

Farmers raise concern over shortage of fertilisers

Last week, some farmers in the Sissala East Municipality and the Sissala West District expressed concern over the non-availability of the farming input, noting that it had forced them to reduce their farm sizes.

They noted that it had become difficult to get fertilisers, making them resort to purchasing them from the open market at high cost.

The decried that the situation had forced them to queue in the sun to buy the few that come beyond the subsidised price of GH¢96.00 to GH¢135.00 or more.

The farmers also indicated that the situation has made intermediaries involve themselves in the value chain, thereby, hampering easy access to fertilisers.

They made these concerns in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA).

READ ALSO: Upper West REGSEC Imposes Curfew On Fertiliser Movement

Owing to the prevailing situation, the Upper West Regional Security Council (REGSEC), last month imposed an indefinite curfew on the movement of fertiliser and other farm inputs in the region.

The curfew covered the Sissala East Municipality and Sissala West District in particular.

The move was to curtail the smuggling of the farming compost out of the country and ensure that farmers had enough to purchase.

The curfew imposition came a few weeks after a 2020 Monitoring of Fertilisers report by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), disclosed that cartels were smuggling and hoarding fertilisers in some parts of the country.

The areas that the activities of the cartels including politicians, chiefs, community leaders, security agencies and farmers occurred were Hohoe, West Mamprusi, Mamprugu-Moagduri, Pusiga and Sisala East.

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