A two-day National Fertilizer Stakeholders’ workshop has opened in Accra to identify and address issues in the fertilizer industry to help sustain agricultural production and food security.
Participants are also expected to come up with appropriate recommendations that would deal with fertilizer issues as well as inform policy.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in collaboration with Soil Research Institute (SRI) and Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), organised the workshop being attended by various stakeholders including fertilizer manufacturers, importers, distributers, retailers and end users, especially, farmers and CSOs.
Dr Francis Tetteh, a Senior Research Scientists of SRI and a Project Coordinator of the Soil Health Policy Node, said the fertilizer industry had many setbacks such as issues of quality, regulation, pricing, subsidy and proper use and application of fertilizers.
He said the prevailing situation is that most farmers do “blanket fertilizer application, using same fertilizer for all crop types and all soil types”. This result in low yields, affecting food production in the country.
Dr Tetteh said as part of measures already underway to address the fertilizer issues, the Soil Health Policy Action Node has been established to work to help improve soil and crop productivity through development of policy and the implementation of conducive health policies to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security.
He said the Node was also working to ensure that Ghana attains the required fertilizer application usage of 50 kilograms per hectare of land instead of the 12 kilograms per hectare currently being applied.
He said a National Fertilizer Policy had also been developed to support the implementation of a competitive fertilizer subsector that leads to economic growth through sustainable environmental management and industrial growth linked to science, technology and innovation.
Dr Dorothy Effa, Assistant Director, in-charge of Policy Planning and Budget Directorate MoFA, said the Micro Reforms for African Agribusiness (MIRA) being sponsored by AGRA is also another intervention to help address fertilizer and other agricultural production practices in the country.
She said MIRA, currently being implemented in five African Countries, was facilitating access to high quality technical assistance for identifying, prioritising and reforming specific agricultural regulations and policies.
She said seed, fertilizer, trade and markets, finance and land, all perform important roles in the agriculture value chain.
She said there was also no plant variety protection law or Act in Ghana, and that there was the need for such a law to protect researchers so they could develop and come out with more seeds.
Dr Effa said the presence of adulterated and fake fertilizers on the market was seriously affecting farmers’ produce, adding that the conclusions at the workshop would be critical for the development of the fertilizer subsector.
In a presentation carried out on behalf on Mr Emmanuel Asante Krobea, Director of Crop Services, MoFA, he said since 2008, government had subsidised fertilizer from 43,000 metric tonnes at a cost of 21 million cedis to 173, 0000 metric tonnes in 2012 at a cost of 117 million cedis.
He said the state has also increased fertilizer usage per hectare from eight kilograms to 12 kilogrammes, and “we are still working hard to increase that”.
He, however, said the fertilizer subsidy programme, a government intervention, was based on availability of funds, adding that government was working hard to pay up all companies that supply fertilizer under the subsidy programme.
He said efforts were also being made to start the subsidy distribution earlier than the May period, preferably in March as done in 2013 and 2015, to enable more farmers, especially those in the southern sector to benefit from the programme.