Meeting food needs: AGRA says reliance on organic fertilizer not enough

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Economic Agriculture Fertilizer
Economic Agriculture Fertilizer

Madam Asseta Diallo, Senior Programmes Officer at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Ghana says the country’s dependence on organic fertilisers for soil nutrients may not help achieve food security.

She explained that Ghana had a poor fertility status where about 65 per cent of agricultural land was depleted or severely degraded due to human activities such as mining.

That situation, she pointed out, demanded the combination of organic and inorganic fertilizer in the agricultural production chain to ensure that the country produces enough to meet the food needs of its citizens.

“Huge volume of organic fertilizer such as two tonnes of high-quality legume biomass will provide less than 50 kilogrammes of nitrogen which would suffice to produce 1 tonne of maize grain.

“In Ghana, we have noticed that due to degradation, the country has lost $4. 2 billion over a period of 10 years from 2006 to 2015 representing five per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)” she said.

Madam Diallo disclosed this during a presentation at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – AGRA Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) learning event.

The event highlighted the achievements, key learnings, and outlook for future programming of Agriculture.

Mr Yaw Frimpong Addo, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture said the government’s attempt to make agriculture the driver of Ghana’s economy was being hampered by low farm productivity, lack of access to quality agro-input and the low adoption of agronomic practices due to limited access to extension services, among others.

He said the government, through the agriculture ministry, had initiated a raft of measures, including the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), One Village One Dam, and Rearing for Food and Jobs programmes, to address the challenges confronting the sector.

“It is significant to say that the food crops model under the PFJ chalked a lot of success starting with 200,000 beneficiaries who accessed fertilizers and improved seeds in 2017 and the numbers increasing to 1.7 million in 2021,” he said.

AGRA, with funding from USAID, has increased its contribution to agriculture under the PIATA programme.
Madam Regina Richardson, Programme Officer for AGRA said the organisation had over the last five years focused on increasing farmers’ access to and the adoption of quality seeds and fertilizers.

AGRA also during that period, helped to create the enabling environment for private sector participation in the sector and improved access to quality inputs.

Key results of the PIATA programme include the facilitating the digitisation process of fertilizer registration and control process, assisting 130,000 smallholder farmers to access 8000 metric tonnes of certified seeds, and producing 16.6 metric tonnes of breeder seed and 236 metric tonnes of foundation seeds, amounting to some three per cent of national foundation seeds.

“We have also worked with households, particularly women to support them with home gardening facilities to enable them to produce household vegetable gardening to make additional income and improve nutrition at the household level,” Madam Richardson said.

PIATA was launched in 2017 as a strategy for transforming agricultural systems through integrated delivery across economic zones and value chains.

The programme sought to transition Africa’s agriculture from subsistence to sustainable business occupations by enhancing in-country coordination and deepening engagements and collaboration with the private sector.

This was to be achieved by increasing staple crop productivity, expanding access to national and regional markets, improving the capacity and preparing smallholder farming households for shocks and stresses.

It also intends to deepen multi-sectoral coordination and accountability in the agricultural sector at the continental, regional, and government levels.

PIATA members include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and USAID with AGRA as the implementing partner.

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