Farmers under the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), have been sensitised on the 2021 Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) implementation guidelines.
The one day workshop also educated farmers on subsidy programmes for the 2021 planting season.
Mr Bismark Owusu Nortey, Programme Officer, PFAG in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) disclosed that the workshop became necessary since monitoring carried out in 2020, revealed that most farmers do not know some information about the programme.
He said farmers would be educated, provided with information and also have access to findings from the 2020 Monitoring exercise conducted as a form of getting more knowledge that will be beneficial to them.
Mr Nortey said it was expected that there would be an improvement in how farmers would access the programme for the year, 2021.
“Last year, we realised that information was not forthcoming so farmers had little ideas.
“But this year, there is a lot of information as to where to get it, the prices, the forms they buy as well as have more access to the subsidised fertilisers.”
The Officer said a key expectation was for farmers to be able to help and assist in terms of information that would lead to improvement in the programme.
He said it was important for farmers to improve their relationships with Directors of Agric adding that “there are a lot of issues farmers are witnessing and reporting but sometimes they do not know the avenue to report those infractions.”
Mr Nortey said the PFAG had observed problems with the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme such as late delivery, smuggling, hoarding and diversion of subsidised fertilisers as well as poor targeting of farmers.
He said other problems included selling fertilisers at higher prices above the recommended, shortage of subsidised fertilisers, especially “Yara” which was most preferred, and poor quality and quantity of some subsidised fertilisers.
The Officer said the lack of clear and transparent criteria in assigning supply quotas of subsidised fertilisers to specific geographical areas where suppliers were to deliver the fertilisers was a cause of the problems identified.
Mr Nortey said PFAG recommended that the Agricultural Ministry develop structural and comprehensive reporting templates to be filled and submitted by District and Regional Departments of Agriculture.
He said it was also recommended that due to the impact of the COVID-19 on smallholder farmers, the government should cushion them by increasing subsidies on fertilisers.
The Officer said the PFAG had played roles in addressing problems through monitoring the implementation of the subsidy programme, policy dialogue with government and budget analysis and advocacy on fertilisers subsidy.
The PFAG is currently implementing a project dubbed “Efficient Fertiliser Subsidy Programme for Enhanced Food Production by Smallholder farmers in Ghana.”
It is focused on rice growing Districts and border towns to ensure smallholder farmers get the full benefit of the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme.
Mr Besa Akpalu, Kadjebi District Director of Agriculture, urged farmers to use fertilisers in cultivating their crops adding that fertilisers replenish and also enable farmers to maintain and increase their yields.
He said fertilisers when applied properly, also improved human health.
Mr Akpalu said it was important for farmers to know how and when to apply fertilisers, the quantity and the type to apply.
The Director said when farmers adopted proper methods of applying fertilisers, they derived their benefits through yield increment.
Mr Amoah Duncan Kwaku, PFAG Representative for Volta and Oti Region and a peasant farmer, said although subsidised fertilisers were essential to farmers, they were facing challenges in accessing them.
He said the distance from where a farmer lived and a distributor was a challenge.
Mr Amoah said distributors were few because of conditions such as documentations needed before one became a distributor discouraged a lot of people.
He said farmers still paid unknowingly, unapproved fees on fertilisers although the fertilisers were subsidised.
Mr Amoah called for more distribution outlets to enable farmers to easily access them and also equip officers to assist farmers to produce more.
He called for the set-up of groups among farmers and rescheduling of the programme to ensure that it reached the doorsteps of farmers.
The workshop was in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and with support from the International Budget Partnership (IBP).