The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) has introduced selected farmers from the Wa Municipality and Wa West District to fertilizer trials under evaluation and their effective application.
The 57 farmers were drawn from Vieri, Naaha, Yeleyir, Lassia-Tuolu, Tanigna and Bulinjin communities in the Wa West District and the Wa Municipality.
The field experiments in Wa and Tanina involved trials of maize and soybeans sulphur omission, comparison of granular and briquettes fertilizer; compound fertilizer briquettes, optimization briquettes fertilizer, and nutrient management trials for maize and soybeans.
The trials were under the Fertilizer Research and Responsible Implementation programme (FERARI) supported by IFDC, OCP Africa, and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University UM6P).
Addressing the farmers during the exercise, Dr. George Mahama, an Agronomist at SARI, said the use of fertilizers to sustain soil fertility and restore crop productivity among smallholder farms of northern Ghana is often limited by the high cost and limited access to available fertilizers.
He said essential plant nutrients including; Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Sulphur and Boron have been identified as potential limited soil nutrients in many communities across the five regions in the north.
The Agronomist said much attention and many fertilizer programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa were focused on the replacement of only major nutrients mainly through soil application.
He said as a result, the concentrations of nutrients in grains had declined considerably over the years, negatively affecting nutritional quality and exacerbating malnutrition.
He noted that the interventions by FERARI are to create appropriate conditions for strong market growth of balanced fertilizers and their widespread adoption to help improve nutrition sensitive agriculture.
Dr. Mahama said apart from the quantity and composition of fertilizers, the mode of application played a key role in nutrient uptake by plants.
“These trials are not for fun in the sense that when these farmers come, we always advise them to try as much as possible to replicate what they have seen and to also tell their colleagues what they came and learned”, he explained.
He also took farmers through the importance and use of inoculants, and urged them to regularly use inoculants especially for legumes, such as soybeans.
Dr. Iddrisu Yahaya, an Agricultural Economist at SARI, also implored farmers to see agriculture as a business and invest in it to reap the profit.
He explained that it was economically prudent to adopt appropriate agronomic practices and use recommended inputs to improve their economic fortunes rather than resorting to cheaper practices that would not yield any meaningful results.
“The FERARI project is to help improve productivity. There is too much competition on our resources, competing demand for land, rainfall invariabilities and continues land use.
“So if farmers are able to adopt these technologies that are churned out by SARI and especially the FERARI project they effectively and efficiently use fertilizer for improved yield, food security and improved income”, Dr. Yahaya explained.
Mr Alhassan Halidu, a farmer at Tanigna, commended SARI for the field trials and said the lessons picked from the exercise would help him improve on his farming activities.
“All what SARI is teaching us is what we farmers need to adopt. Let’s give trust to the agric officers. If we continue to do things on our own, we will not get anything from it”, he observed.