Farmers have been urged to look out for subsidised fertiliser on the open market under the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme (FSP) and not be misled into buying them at exorbitant prices.
The government has resumed its fertiliser subsidy programme this year with 180,000 tonnes, the highest since 2008, which has seen a timely release of the input during the planting season to enable farmers to apply them appropriately to improve yields.
The General Manager of Agricultural Manufacturing Group (AMG) Ltd, Mr Henry Otoo-Mensah, told the Daily Graphic that the fertiliser subsidies were not over and that his company which would supply about 50,000 tonnes under the programme, together with other fertiliser companies had stocks all across the country.
“I have toured all the northern part of the country and at every nook and cranny of where I visited, I saw subsidised fertilisers and no farmer should buy fertiliser above GH¢85, which is the subsidised price,” Mr Otoo-Mensah stated.
Although the government has rolled out its largest subsidies yet for fertilisers this year, some retailers are throwing in the falsehood in some parts of the country that the government subsidies on fertilisers were over. This is to create an artificial shortage in order to market their comparatively expensive brands.
But the AMG official said the government’s subsidy programme was still in force, and that there were more subsidised fertilisers in the system for any farmer to worry about access to the input.
While AMG, a Ghanaian company, itself has about 270 distribution points across the country, it has again partnered with Iddisal, the largest fertiliser distributor in the northern part of the country, to distribute fertilisers.
According to Mr Otoo-Mensah, AMG already has about 350,000 bags of fertilisers in stock across the country, as part of the 800,000 bags it would make available during the programme season.
The AMG and Iddisal (NPK) fertilisers also have a higher level of nitrogen, which is highly recommended for the production of cereals (maize, rice, sorghum etc).
Fertiliser adoption and impact
The government initiated the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme in 2008 to help farmers increase fertiliser usage and yield. With the support of the World Bank, the government steadily increased subsidies on fertilisers from a little over 43,000 tonnes at GH¢20 million in 2008 to 173,000 tonnes at GH¢117 million in 2012.
Having subsidised the product to the tune of GH¢341 million as of 2013, the sustainability became a challenge when the World Bank support dried up, leading to the government’s withdrawal from the programme in 2014.
A total of 180,000 tonnes was expected to be subsidised in 2013, but the government could not fund the programme. It, however, resumed in 2015 with modest subsidies.
Previously averse to fetiliser application, farmers in Ghana only started gradual adoption in the late 1980s when the Sasakawa Global 2000 made interventions in the agricultural sector.
The fertiliser subsidy programme in 2008, which falls within the Comprehensive Agricultural Development Programme, has helped to further improve the rate and adoption of fertiliser application by farmers. While adoption rate has increased appreciably, application has also improved moderately from 8kg per hectare to an average of 12kg/ha.
This has helped to moderately scaled yields from an average of 2.0 tonnes/ha to 2.5 tonnes/ha between 2008 and 2015.
“We want to encourage more farmers to use fertiliser because there is more subsidised fertiliser in the system,” Mr Otoo-Mensah stressed.
Soil nutrient is on the decline across the country, but the situation is quite dire in the north. Farmers in the three northern regions who do not apply fertilisers, harvest between a bag and three bags of produce (maize). However, fertiliser application has helped to boost yields to between 12 and 20 bags per acre.
Mr Otoo-Mensah, however, said the quality and increase of nitrogen component of the AMG/Iddisal fertilsers was to boost yields to about 30 bags per hectare.