Farmers worry over fertilizer shortages

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has expressed worry about the sustainability of the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme (FSP)  being implemented by  the government.

PFAG said the recent occurrences in  the  Fertiliser Subsidy Programme (FSP)  could negatively affect output in the agriculture sector.

According to the association, the perennial shortage of subsidised fertiliser was gravely affecting food crop farmers, particularly those in the Upper East and Upper West regions of the country.

The Programmes Co-ordinator of the PFAG, Ms Victoria Adongo, told the Daily Graphic that the farmers found it difficult to plant at the appropriate time.

She said the shortage of the products always led to higher prices to about GH¢60 instead of GH¢51 and added that “Smuggling across our borders also contributes to the shortage.

“In the open market, the unsubsidised fertiliser such as NPK sells between GH¢68 and GH¢70.”

The consequence of the situation, she said, would be a decrease in food production and increased cost of food prices as farmers would push the high cost of production onto the consumer.

Since 2009, PFAG has been  advocating fertiliser subsidy. Indeed, there has been several policy discussions as to why the subsidy should be maintained.

She said PFAG was determined to intensify advocacy of the issue this year to push for government to invest in small scale agriculture.

Ms Adongo said the capacity of the Ghana Agricultural Input Dealers Association should be built to improve their distribution networks and that the subsidy period should run all-year-round.

The PFAG has also asked for strict enforcement of the law against smuggling and punishment for persons caught trying to smuggle fertiliser outside the country.

In the 2013 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, the continuous introduction of technology to improve agricultural production remained the main focus of government policy interventions. These interventions include the adoption of livestock production technologies, agricultural mechanisation, irrigation development, fertiliser subsidy, seed improvement, quality standardisation and the implementation of modern buffer stock management techniques.

Under the fertiliser and seed subsidy programme in 2012,    300,000 farmers benefited from 170,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser and 20,000 kg of improved seeds of maize, rice and soyabean.

According to the budget for the 2013 financial year, the Ministry of Agriculture would continue with its mandate to implement programmes and projects in the Medium Term Agricultural Sector Investment Plan (METASIP).

It said the government would develop a National Seed Policy in conformity with regional seed and planting material policy under the Economic Community of West African Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP).

In addition, the government would also co-ordinate the procurement and distribution of 180,000 metric tonnes of subsidised fertiliser to farmers. In addition, web-based software for the smooth implementation and management of fertiliser and seed subsidy programme would be introduced. Furthermore, 4,127 tonnes of seed cotton and 9,472 tonnes of all lint would be produced.

By Ama Amankwah Baafi/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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