Scrap PFJ fertiliser subsidies

  • Peasant farmers, dealers not interested in scheme
  • Subsidies already decline to 38% in 2021 from 50% in 5yrs

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and some fertiliser distributors under government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative have called for a total cancellation of fertiliser subsidies under the programme.

Some farmers told the B&FT that they are hoping to see fertiliser subsidies on the programme come to an end to enable them buy from the open market where they can have improved access to this essential input – which has seen excessive hoarding and smuggling under the PFJ.

Similarly, some input distributors also desire that subsidies on fertiliser be cancelled to enable these companies maintain extensive import programmes to ensure inputs are available on the market to farmers at all times.

While dealers are complaining of government’s inability to promptly make payment for fertiliser supplied to farmers since last year, most beneficiary farmers are worried about the consistent inability to plant crops in time due to unavailability of inputs.

Data from the Food and Agriculture Ministry (MoFA) indicate that government owes fertiliser importers some GH¢940million since the beginning of last year. Out of the amount, only GH¢250million has been paid so far.

Conversely, however, it appears the PFJ itself is reaching an anticlimax – as MoFA, for the first time since the programme’s inception five years ago in 2017, has had to reduce subsidies on fertiliser from the 50 percent enjoyed by farmers in the last five years to 38 percent beginning from 2021.

In 2020, MoFA under the PFJ procured and distributed 364,233 metric tonnes of organic and inorganic fertiliser to 1.2 million farmers at 50 percent subsidy.

This year, MoFA seeks to distribute a total of 521,380 metric tonnes of organic and inorganic fertiliser to 1.5 million farmers under the programme – with 38 percent subsidy on chemical fertilisers and 40 percent on organic fertilisers.

But the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), speaking on the recent challenges of the PFJ, holds the view that the modus operandi of the programme must be reconsidered.

PFAG’s Head of Programes and Advocacy, Dr. Charles Nyaaba, speaking to the B&FT said: “Government, after this crop season, must undertake serious reforms of the PFJ fertiliser subsidy programme”.

He explained that farmers have become dependent on these subsidies to the extent that current delays in distribution and unavailability of fertiliser are posing serious challenges to the over-one million farmers under the policy.

“We are of the opinion that, immediately the season is over, government should call a meeting to ensure we get a support system which supports farmers differently from fertiliser subsidy; so that government will take off the subsidy to enable farmers know where to get fertiliser when they need it. If this meeting is not called, the PFAG will call its own meeting,” Dr. Nyaaba said.

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