Fear grips over 2m peasant farmers

Fear grips over 2m peasant farmers

as gov’t hints at gradually removing fertiliser subsidy

  • subsidy already cut twice in 2021 crop season
  • cost of fertiliser projected to hit GH¢300 in open market

Nearly two million peasant farmers across the country are shrouded in fear and anxiety over indications that government is planning to cancel subsidies on fertiliser and other inputs to farmers in future planting seasons.

Already, the percentage of subsidies on inputs to farmers have been declining – moving from 50 percent in the last five years since 2017 to 37 percent for the first time in the 2021 crop season.

However, Head of Programmes and Advocacy at the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Dr. Charles Nyaaba, indicated to the B&FT that though government reduced the subsidy to 37 percent at the start of this season in August, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) further reduced the subsidy to 27 percent in September without any engagement with farmers.

“We started this season with the cost of subsidised fertiliser selling for GH¢48, and within a month it was adjusted to GH¢53 with no prior notice to farmers,” he said.

Dr. Nyaaba disclosed that the sector-minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, during a meeting with some members of the association in Oti Region stated categorically that government is planning to gradually take subsidies off fertilisers. “This is a reliable information based on the minister’s engagement with some of our members in Oti Region. The removal, when implemented, will lead to disaster in the agriculture sector,” Dr. Nyaaba indicated.

Conversely, however, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto told the B&FT that government is planning to do no such thing like totally scrapping subsidies on inputs, adding “There is no basis for such claims”.

But PFAG has projected the cost of fertiliser to hit GH¢300 in the open market next year, if government removes subsidies on the product. Indeed, most fertiliser companies in Europe are closing down due to the COVID-19, and the few that are producing have resorted to restricting movement of fertiliser to several African countries so as to benefit farmers in Europe.

The situation in Europe, PFAG said, could lead to acute shortages of such inputs in Ghana and the sub-region, vis-à-vis the projected hike in market prices. The association underscored the need for government to rather increase subsidy on fertiliser, seeds and other inputs in order to support farmers reduce cost of production, sell products at affordable prices and scale-up farms.

In August this year, PFAG called for major reforms in the fertiliser subsidy programme after the initiative was hit with myriads of challenges – including non-payment to fertiliser distributors and the resultant delay of input distribution to farmers across the country.

The PFAG is the apex Farmer-Based Non-Governmental Organisation in Ghana, with a mandate to advocate pro-poor agriculture and trade policies and other issues which affect the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The association consists of individual farmers and farmer groups, as well as value chain actors numbering nearly two million – with almost 2,000 farmer-based organisations (FBOs).

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