President John Mahama on Wednesday announced Cabinet’s approval of a National Seed Policy to propel and rapidly transform the country’s seed industry to meet the needs of a modern agriculture.
The policy aims to draw attention to hitherto neglected areas, especially those that hold key to the attainment of food security, which is in line with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) sector policy document.
Mr Fiifi Kwetey, Minister of State at the Presidency in Charge of Financial and Allied Institutions, who represented President John Mahama was speaking at the 1st Annual West African Fertilizer Stakeholders Forum slated for September 18 and 19, 2013 in Accra.
The two-day meeting on theme: “Ensuring a favourable policy and regulatory environment for fertilizer trade and use in West Africa” is being attended by participants from the West African Sub-region.
The forum was organised by the West Africa Fertilizer Programme in collaboration with the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) with sponsorship from the USAID.
Prez Mahama also stated that plans were far advanced to developed a national seed plan to operationalize the policy statements discussed in the policy and give clarity and support to the Plants and Fertilizer Act, 2010 (Act 803).
He stated that the broader goal to ensure healthier soils for increased agricultural productivity and food security was for the country to provide quality fertilizers to the farmers.
He, however, bemoaned the continuous use of inorganic mineral fertilizers, especially ammonium salt which tends to make the soil acidic and negatively affects microbial activity in the soil thereby reducing the efficacy of the applied fertilizer.
“As stakeholders in the fertilizer business it behooves you to carefully consider how to increase the efficiency of fertilizer use and to sustain the demand for the product,” he added.
Prez Mahama applauded IFDC for its pioneering and sustained role in the development of the Integrated Plant Nutrient Management Approach as a way of reducing cost of fertilizer and also improving soil health.
He also announced that Ghana had achieved the Maputo Declaration of allocating at least 10 per cent of its national budget to the agricultural sector in 2009 as well as declared one of the five countries in Africa that had achieved 75 per cent food self-sufficiency.
He urged the participants to deliberate on critical issues that were important to the farmers and rural dwellers.
Mr Clement Kofi Humado, Minister of Food and Agriculture, stated that agricultural productivity in West Africa was low as a result of low fertilizer use, estimated at 10kg/ha as compared to a world-wide average of 107kg/ha.
He said the soils of sub-Saharan Africa were the poorest in the world, and yet an estimated eight million metric tons of soil nutrients equivalent to $4 billion is lost every year.
He said the only sustainable way of increasing productivity was by increasing yields per unit area of land, generally referred to as “intensification” adding that this process could only happen if farmers had better access to high quality and affordable fertilizers and improved seeds and when farmers were taught to use good farming practices.
Mr Humado noted that despite the challenges, Ghana was on track to achieve its shared growth and development agenda to allow agriculture to contribute to structural transformation of the economy and maximize the benefits of accelerated growth.
He said the country could not achieve food self-sufficiency without putting in place mechanisms to boost food crop yields, adding that fertilizers held the promise of good yields when farmers had access to the right type of fertilizers and were empowered to apply at the right rates.
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