President Nana Akufo-Addo has reiterated the government’s pledge in dealing with the problem of fertilizer shortage in the country.
Speaking at the 37th Farmers’ Day celebration which crowned Alhaji Mashid Mohammed as the 2021 National Best Farmer, the President disclosed that the government, among other things, is collaborating with a Moroccan company to make fertilizers for specific soil types in Ghana.
“For the time being, whiles ensuring the early award of contracts for the supply of fertilizer, the government is also collaborating with the ACP Group of Companies; a Moroccan conglomerate to map soils in Ghana according to their nutrient and chemical composition.”
He explained, “This will enable the use of blended fertilizers specific to soil types to promote efficient use of fertilizers and increase productivity.”
The agricultural sector has been plagued with a number of challenges in the past years. Prominent amongst them is the issue with fertilizer supply.
According to the Planting for Food and Jobs Secretariat of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana lost a whopping GHS120 million to ‘unaccounted for fertilizer’, diversion of coupons and fertilizer smuggling in the 2017 and 2018 planting seasons.
Subsequently, there have been reported shortages of fertilizer nationwide with many stakeholders warning of an imminent increase in food prices in the country due to rising prices of fertilizer worldwide.
Prior to the celebration of farmers on Friday, the General Agricultural Workers Union tasked the government to address the worrying issue and ensure there is enough fertilizer for the country’s next major planting season.
At this year’s event which was held in Cape Coast under the theme, ‘Planting for Food and Jobs – Consolidating Food Systems in Ghana’, President Nana Akufo-Addo outlined other plans that the government has begun implementing to provide fertilizers for farmers and also check the smuggling of the product.
“To eliminate any possible abuse of fertilizer subsidies, a farmer database system has been developed with biometric information; a feature for tracking fertilizer bags and a subsidy redemption solution.”
He further disclosed that a framework has been developed “to provide 50 percent interest rate subsidy for loans advanced to qualified agribusinesses by financial institutions”.
“This will be extended to qualify farmers to expand poultry production operations for hatcheries and processing of plants. The target is to support the farmers with affordable financing to produce five million broiler birds equivalent to 10,000 metric tonnes of meat by the end of this month.”
The sector Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, on his part, advised farmers to focus on using local organic fertilizer as the government finds a more permanent source of fertilizer for them.
“In the meantime, we at the Ministry are encouraging farmers to turn to organic fertilizers which are available locally. We are also redoubling our efforts in attracting the multi-billion dollars required to invest in fertilizer manufacturing plant using the gas that we now find in our offshore explorations,” he said.
Alhaji Mashid Mohammed from the Northern Region who was crowned the 2021 Overall National Best Farmer went home with GHS600,000 from ADB and GHS500,000 worth of insurance cover from Glico.
Sulemana Yidana from the North East Region was adjudged the first runner-up, while Rev Samuel Ziga from the Ahafo region came up as the second runner-up.