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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Fertiliser troubles to end with availability of new data – Agric Minister

Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has assured that new data made available to government by researchers will help to enhance transparency and improve the reach of farm produce such as seedlings and fertiliser to farmers.

According to him, the non-existence of reliable data in the past made it difficult to measure the impact of government’s social intervention programmes such as the distribution of fertiliser across the country. This, he said, created fertiliser shortages in some areas while in high supply at certain parts of the country.

Speaking at the launch of the Visualizing Insights on Fertiliser for African Agriculture (VIFAA) Ghana Dashboard, Dr. Akoto said the platform shows trends across the years on the government’s diversification of subsidy products, and the increase in support to reduce the price paid by farmers.

“The dashboard fills key fertiliser information gaps and will go a long way to supporting the government, development partners and the private sector to respond to changes in the fertiliser market, ensuring that sufficient quantities and appropriate fertilisers reach farmers at the right time for planting.”

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He assured that government will continue to use the data on the dashboard to inform its current and future subsidy policy efforts, to benefit all farmers considering the changing conditions in the fertiliser space. He observed that with a reduction of fertiliser production globally, the effects were also felt in Ghana, with high international pricing leading to a shortage of fertiliser to farmers during the planting season.

He maintained that data is crucial now more than ever to inform the government, private sector and development partners to navigate the negative effects of Covid-19 on the supply of fertiliser. “As a mitigation effect, the government is also currently working on constructing fertiliser plants to take advantage of the net surplus of gas needed for Urea production in Ghana.”

Providing more details on the dashboard, the Country Lead of Development Gateway, a data management company, Wekem Avatim explained that the platform will provide data to help policy and investment decisions in the fertiliser sector. “It will give up-to-date and comprehensive fertiliser data available to meet the needs of stakeholders and It is a user-friendly tool.”

He stated that the new dashboard, was developed by Development Gateway, in collaboration with the AfricaFertilizer.org (AFO) initiative of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC).

He added that funding for the dashboard was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with collaborative effort with key partners from both public and private sectors.

“The goal of the Dashboard is to help fertiliser industry actors respond appropriately to changes in the fertiliser market, to ensure that sufficient appropriate fertilizers reach our farmers at the right time for planting. It is expected that the VIFAA Dashboard in Ghana will enrich decision making among stakeholders in the fertilizer industry. The key beneficiaries will be our farmers who work to ensure agriculture production and productivity,” he added.

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