Ghana’s economic challenges leading to hikes in prices of farm inputs and services have adversely affected agriculture productivity, posing serious threat to food security, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has said.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukraine war and the soaring cost of petroleum products have led to drastic spikes in prices of improved seeds, fertiliser and other production inputs.
The situation has been compounded by the erratic rainfall experienced this year likely to result in food insecurity.
Mr Isaac Pabia, the National Secretary, PFAG, said the situation had compelled many farmers to reduce their farm sizes while many others had been thrown out of business, which must be addressed immediately to prevent food shortage.
“The cost of food production has gone up this year considerably as compared to last year, about triple the cost of last season,” he said.
The cost of 50 kilogrammes of NPK fertiliser in 2021, which was GH₵160.00 increased to GH₵400.00 in 2022, representing about 150 per cent and Urea increased from GH₵150.00 to GH₵450.00 during the same period.
“In addition, the cost of agro-inputs such as pesticides, herbicides, seeds and mechanisation equipment and services have not decreased following the supply chain bottlenecks created by the COVID-19, while the depreciating cedi is making matters worse,” he said.
Mr Pabia, also the Upper East Regional Focal Person, PFAG, made this disclosure in Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality at a training of peasant farmers on the implementation of the fertilizer subsidy programme.
He said the government’s support was inadequate as the quantity of subsidised fertiliser had reduced, making farmers reduce production with others abandoning farming totally.
He said pragmatic measures were needed to reverse the trend as global food security index had indicated that Ghana had dropped from 78th to 82nd on food security outlook and food inflation was at about 30 per cent high.
“The cumulative effect is the shortage in food supply, high cost of locally produced foods, and the consequent closure of some agro-based industries due to difficulty in accessing raw materials,” he added.
For the short-term solution, Mr Pabia urged government to prioritise dry season farming and support farmers with subsidised inputs and services to increase production while long-term must look at establishing fertilizer processing plants for local production, reduce cost, and increase farmers’ income.
He urged the government to construct dams under the One Village One Dam initiative to ensure that farmers had enough water to engage in all-year farming.
Mr Pabia called on the authorities to lift the ban on maize exportation to ensure competition and increase income, adding: “Since the ban, local aggregators have benefitted from reduced prices, forcing farmers who depend on the income of grain sales for the next season production to become price takers.”