Agriculture is critical to some of Africa’s biggest development goals. The sector is an engine of job creation: farming alone currently accounts for about 60 percent of total employment in sub-Saharan Africa, while its share of jobs across the food system is potentially much larger. In Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, the food system is projected to add more jobs than the rest of the economy between 2010 and 2025.
Agriculture is also a driver of inclusive and sustainable growth, and the foundation of a food system that provides nutritious, safe, and affordable food.
At the same time, Africa’s agriculture sector is facing mounting challenges.
While agricultural productivity in Africa has picked up in recent years, it still lags behind other regions – and currently one in four people in sub-Saharan Africa is chronically undernourished.
In the coming decades, Africa’s food system will be further strained by a population that is projected to rise by 1.3 billion by 2050. And the food security challenge will only grow as climate change intensifies, threatening crop and livestock production.
If no adaptation occurs, production of maize—which is one of Africa’s staple crops—could decline by up to 40 percent by 2050. Expanding the land that is under cultivation has boosted agricultural production in the past – but it has come at an environmental cost. Moving forward, the focus must be on intensifying production on agricultural land sustainably without harming the environment.
This has led the world–renowned mineral fertiliser production and distribution firm YARA Ghana Limited to unveil a state-of–the–art blending facility as part of efforts to improve access to quality fertiliser for the local agiric sector. This, Yara believes, will aid efforts to mitigate the threat of hunger across Africa.
Speaking at the facility’s inauguration recently, The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture – Dr. SAgre Bambangi, gave his unalloyed backing to the poject: “I wish to express my joy of being present here at the inauguration of this fertiliser facility by Yara Ghana.
“I am informed that this facility has a warehousing capacity of 50,000 tonnes as well as a blending unit with a production rate of 100 tonnes every hour.
“Government for the past two years has attached an extraordinary importance to agriculture with the view to making it the true backbone of Ghana’s economy. Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has therefore put in measures to ensure that this target is achieved within the shortest possible time.
“What we are witnessing today from Yara Ghana could therefore not have come at a better time.
“This is also taking place at a time that government through the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing a major initiative to boost agriculture in the country.”
The initiative, tagged ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’, has been set in motion for close to two years now. This strategy supports the Ghanaian farmer in various ways. These include the supply of subsidised fertilisers and other agro-chemicals, supply of free seedlings, and capacity building programmes among others aimed at eventually increasing yields while creating more job opportunities, especially the youth.
He explained details of the policy and expressed his delight at the new facility’s completion by Yara Ghana.
“The overall goal is to contribute to modernizing the agricultural sector, which will lead to structural transformation of the national economy.
“It is anchored on five strategic pillars – provision of improved seeds, fertilisers, dedicated extension services, marketing and e-Agriculture.”
President Akuffo-Addo launched the programme in April 2017. Since then, the following have been achieved among others:
- Distribution of over 100,000 bags of cereal and legume seeds; 50,000 sachets of vegetable seeds; and about 2,500,000 bags of fertiliser
- Recruitment of over 1000 agricultural extension personnel
- Establishment of a taskforce to assess the status of warehouses and storage facilities nationwide for rehabilitation
- Creation of market opportunities for farmers by linking them with institutional buyers such as the School Feeding Programme and Prisons Service; and
- Electronically registering some 50,000 farmers out of the more than 250,000 manually registered.
“May I state that I am very pleased to note that Yara Ghana has decided to go beyond what it is currently doing in supporting agriculture in Ghana by coming up with this project, which without a doubt will lead to a significant boost to our initiative in particular and agriculture in the country general. I can only say ‘Ayekoo’ to you Yara. With an input support of this nature among others, we hope to raise agriculture’s contribution to GDP by a significant height in the nearest future.
“Let me take this opportunity to urge others in the private sector to also come up with more innovative and modern ways by which we can together improve the agric sector’s quality. Join hands with government in pushing the agric sector to take its rightful place at the top of the nation’s economy – a place it had formerly dominated for several decades.
“I wish Yara all the best as it embarks on this additional journey, and once again assure of the ministry’s preparedness to support it in achieving the heights it intends to achieve,” he concluded.
In his remarks, Deputy-Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, praised Yara Ghana for opening the new fertiliser terminal under the ‘One District, One Factory (1D1F) programme.
“Government since assuming office in January 2017 has prioritised the transformation and modernisation of the Ghanaian economy. A modernised economy must have a strong industrial sector, hence the commitment of government toward successful implementation of the One District, One Factory (1D1F) programme.
“In promoting the 1D1F initiative, government is seeking to address the challenges of urbanisation and underdevelopment among rural communities by attracting private sector investments into the development activities of these communities.
“The programme’s implementation has received significant support from the Business Community, as well as from both local and International financial institutions. As a show of support to this initiative, some local banks have pledged about GH¢4.5billion while some leading financial institutions like US Exim has pledged US$300million; and US$40million is coming from China National Building Materials (CNBM) in credit lines to be accessed by Business promoters; and as well, UK export credit finance increased its pledge from E250million to E1billion. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is facilitating the engagements and negotiations between Business Promoters and these financial institutions.
“As part of the process for facilitating access to these funds, the ministry has recommended about 100 District Enterprise Projects to these financial institutions for further credit appraisal, while the selected projects have been assigned Technical Experts to provide free advisory services during the project implementation phase.
“I am particularly happy about the opening of this new fertiliser terminal, which is meant to reduce turnaround time at the port since bulk materials will not be bagged at the portside – and in turn increase Yara’s production and storage capacity, as well as making Yara Ghana the gateway for the supply of fertiliser to other West Africa countries.
“The new fertiliser terminal opening is critical to the industrialisation programme of Ghana. Wholly financed by Yara, the facility will support the drive for industrialisation by the government of Ghana through the 1D1F programme, since the facility is a full-scale production unit capable of producing and bagging different fertiliser blends and other fertiliser units.
“I am informed that the company’s current workforce stands at 40, but when working at full capacity – especially with enrolment into the 1D1F – the workforce will increase to 150. I am also briefed that the company has a network of over 300 retailers and distributors across the country that it works with.
“The new fertiliser terminal opened by yara has the potential to help bridge the gap between production and demand for fertiliser locally, and this is of much interest to me in view of government’s industrial transformation agenda,” he asserted.
YARA is a world-renowned firm, versed in the production and distribution of mineral fertiliser.
Since venturing into Ghana over a decade ago, Yara has been supplying high quality products for various crop areas such as cereals, vegetables, cocoa, etc.
The company has an expansive nationwide distribution network, which affords it the leverage of offering technical support for farmers signed onto its Yara ‘Crop Nutrition Solutions’ initiative.
With a central vision that is hinged on a desire to be a global leader in sustainable agriculture and environmental solutions, the company operates with a wider pool of organisational aspirations – which include being environmentally responsible and responding to major global challenges, particularly those that directly affect the company’s farmer-clients.