Farmers Want Fertiliser Subsidy Restored

The Peasant Farmers of Ghana (PFAG) are reeling from the unavailability of subsidised fertiliser on the market, even as the farming season has begun in earnest and farmers have sown their seeds for the major season. The President of PFAG, Mohammed Nasiru Adam, expressed disappointment at the fact that subsidised fertiliser is unavailable to farmers at this crucial moment when the input is most needed, and poses a threat to attaining food security in Ghana. “As you may be aware, we are at the tail-end of May and farmers have been planting since April; yet there is no sign of subsided fertiliser on the market. Farmers are jittery and anxious, and rightly so.” Mohammed Nasiru Adam said the fact that the only key programme that has yielded significant impact and is hailed by farmers across the length and breadth of the country as the panacea to low crop-yield, which is the subsidised fertiliser programme, is being jettisoned. He noted that the main reason for its introduction was to help farmers increase their rate of fertiliser application as a means of increasing crop productivity and production, as well as increase the current fertiliser application rate to at least 50 kilogrammes per hectare. “This became necessary as statistics showed that Ghana’s fertiliser application rate was one of the lowest in the world, standing at 8 kg/ha compared with 20 kg/ha in sub-Saharan Africa, 99 kg/ha in Latin America, 109 kg/ha in South Asia and 140 kg/ha in East and South East Asia.” This low application, he noted, was attributed to amongst other things the high level of poverty among small-scale farmers, low profit-margin, and high cost of fertilisers. The PFAG President said the subsidised fertiliser programme faces a number of challenges which threaten its sustainability and effectiveness. Key among which are: the high price of the input; when the fertiliser finally gets to the farmer late or in the middle of the season it is no more useful to crops; as well as the delay in releasing funds to fertiliser importers for consistent supply.