Ghanaian farmers need to shift from the practice of blanket fertilizer application to adopting fertilizer blends that are crop and site specific, Dr Asseta Diallo, Senior Programmes Officer at AGRA West Africa, has advised.
She observed that the use of the same fertilizers on soils, which were heterogeneous and dynamic in nature was unproductive and ineffective as it failed to correct the nutrient deficiencies of soils for agriculture.
Dr Diallo said understanding the nutrient needs of the soil would also help reduce the cost and quantity of fertilizer importation, especially when few quantities of certain blends were required to optimise agriculture outputs.
“If the soil is acidic, you can add all the quality fertilizers and you will not get the potential of the fertilizer because of the nature of the soil,” she said at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – AGRA Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) learning event.
“Specifically in Ghana, what we can say on the use of blanket fertilizer application is that the yield of rice has increased a bit compared to maize, ” she added.
Dr Diallo reiterated the need for political will and investment in the country’s fertilizer value chain where the private sector would drive the local fertilizer blending industry.
“Multi-nutrient balanced fertilizers and other soil health technologies should be taken at scale,” she said.
The Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Yaw Frimpong Addo, said the seed and fertilizer sector required strategic interventions at various stages, including investment in research and breeding, improving access of seed companies to foundation seeds, and addressing issues of poor and fake seeds.
He commended AGRA and USAID for their contributions to an enhanced inputs supply system in Ghana.
Ms Amber Lily Kenny, Agriculture Team Lead & Feed the Future Coordinator at USAID-Ghana, said AGRA and USAID through the partnership had among other things assisted 130,000 smallholder farmers to access more than 8,000 metric tonnes of certified seeds produced.
She observed that despite the appreciable level of investment in the sector, there existed the gaps of low adoption of improved inputs due to low farmers awareness, weak market linkages, insufficient distribution access and inadequate access to finance.
She added that: “Although robust policies exist, the institutional architecture to support the implementation of those policies must be updated.”