Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, has called on fertiliser producers to support farmers with fertilisers.
He said the shortage and increased price of fertilisers in the country were affecting farmers tremendously, hence the need to support them.
Dr Afriyie Akoto made the call at the launch of Yara Ghana’s ‘‘Grow Ghana Initiative’’ to benefit over 100,000 smallholder farmers and help enhance the country’s food security
The project is a partnership between Yara, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP)
Smallholder farmers will be provided with free bags of the fertiliser in a package to effectively reduce their fertilizer cost per acre by at least 33.3 per cent to ensure that they have access to enough fertiliser to sustain food production in the country.
He said: “We are appealing to other international fertiliser producers to follow the footsteps of Yara and make a commitment at this time because we have only about a month more for fertilizer application.”
“Our farmers are feeling it. Last year they used to buy a 50 kilogram bag of NPK for GH¢120.00 but now they will be lucky to have it for GH¢320.00, ‘’ he said.
The Minister noted that the prices were almost tripled making fertilisers exorbitant and out of stock in many farming communities.
Mr Afriyie Akoto said the Government grew the fertiliser industry from less than 200,000 metric tonnes in 2017 to peak at 420,000 metric tonnes in 2020.
However, he said, it declined due to difficulties of COVID 19 coupled with the Russia-Ukraine war which exacerbated the situation of shortage.
The Minister reiterated that the Planting for Food and Jobs programme delivered food security to citizens as well as other countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo, who come to pick the surpluses.
‘‘It is going to be strengthened, we have had very good raise this year, both in the forest region and in the North and in spite of the setback or the shortage, fertiliser, had reached 1. 6 million farmers out of a total of over 3 million,’’ he said.
Dr Akoto Afriyie said the interest of the farmers of the value of fertiliser improved seed which had become a culture of cultivation would bring to fruition the transformation agenda that the Government sought for farmers.
The Minister expressed appreciation to the Management of Yara International and Yara Ghana for the donation of 20,000 metric tons of NPK which was significant psychologically and physically to Ghanaian farmers.
“We know that other international companies that we have been dealing with promised that they are going to come up with similar donations. But at least for the first time, Yara has taken the lead in this respect,’’ he added.
Mr Danquah Addo-Yobo, General Manager, Yara Ghana, said the ‘‘Grow Ghana Initiative’’ would offer a catalytic support for growth and economic participation of the youth and women.
He said digital tool would be deployed to monitor the initiative and its success measured using credible impact evaluation mechanisms.
Mr Addo-Yobo stated that, farmers would be provided with demonstration fields and trainings on fertiliser application and best farming practices.
Madam Amber Lily Kenny, Acting Economic Growth Office Director, USAID Ghana said they were supporting the initiative to ensure that the fertilisers got to the farmers who needed it most.
She noted that it was difficult for smallholder farmers to access fertiliser and USAID was concerned about its effects on food security, hence, the need to eradicate it.