As part of efforts to address the shortage of agro-chemicals, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has announced that government is proactively working with local fertiliser producers to produce quality organic fertiliser on a large scale for farmers across the country.
According to the sector minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, organic agriculture has taken a huge premium on the international market – adding that the mass production of quality organic fertiliser will make Ghana less dependent on inorganic fertiliser.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto was briefing journalists following a stakeholder meeting with local fertiliser producers on the production and promotion of quality organic fertilisers domestically in Accra on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
He attributed the ‘acute shortage’ of agro-chemicals generally, and fertilisers in particular, to the war between Russia and Ukraine, amid the international sanctions on Russia.
These developments, he said, are breaking the supply chain of fertiliser and making global trading very difficult – to which Ghana is no exception.
“In a catastrophic situation, you have to be able to adapt and come out stronger. So we feel that we need to encourage the production of quality organic fertiliser domestically,” he averred.
He noted that from January to May this year there has been a sharp drop in the amount of fertiliser distributed to farmers in this country, and lamented that “this was nothing to write home about”.
However, Dr. Afriyie Akoto believes that in the view of the challenge above a significant amount of organic fertiliser production is possible in the country.
“We will have close collaborations with local producers of organic fertilisers to see how we can maximise your businesses to help us bridge the fertiliser gap – if not completely, at least we’ll make the effort to provide a higher percentage of fertiliser requirement,” he assured.
He urged local organic fertiliser producers to avail themselves of the opportunities presented by government to boost production and meet the fertiliser needs of the farming population.
“We are prepared to work with you with our extension officers. We have the capacity in teaching the farmers on how to adopt and apply this organic fertiliser. And given the opportunity out there, I believe you can supply more,” he said confidently.
He also encouraged the local producers to convince their foreign partners to come and set up fertiliser plants in the country.
Furthermore, Dr. Afriyie Akoto indicated that Ghana abounds with loads of raw materials for fertiliser production, which include garbage and fauna.
He applauded the efforts of, particularly, Zoomlion Ghana Limited for investing hugely in using waste to produce organic fertiliser.
The demand for fertiliser in Ghana, he said, is about 600,000 metric tonnes.
“And so far this year, we haven’t even done 100,000 metric tonnes so we are way, way off,” he bemoaned.
“…We are actively searching for solutions to ensure that farmers are supplied with the right fertiliser,” he said.
According to the minister, the essence of Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) is basically to grow farm productivity, especially of smallholder farms.
“And I believe we have been very successful with this programme in the last 5 years that I have been in charge of the ministry, by targetting fertiliser and improved seeds for distribution to farmers,” he said.
He said the Russia-Ukraine war that has sundered the global supply chain of fertiliser is “severely restricting” the PFJ programme and depriving more farmers of the benefit of modern technology for seeds and fertiliser.
He said for the last three-four years his outfit has had a “good extension service”, adding that this has led to a high subsidy on fertiliser by government.
“At the peak of 2020, we had 1.6 million farmers on the programme – which is less than half of our farming population in Ghana. But it has had an impact in spite of all the attempts by our adversaries to put a dent in the achievements this government has made in agriculture.”
The Managing Director of Accra Compost and Recycling Plant (ACARP), Mr. Michael Padi Tuwor – who was present and spoke to the media on the sidelines of the meeting, described the engagement with the minister as “very fruitful”.
He indicated that as an investor he now has a clear understanding of the market, calling for more of such stakeholder engagements with MoFA.
Responding to the question of whether there is unhealthy competition amongst the industry players, he said: “We must always expect competition, and it must be a healthy one for the common good of the country”.
Again, on the issue of fake products on the market Mr. Tuwor suggested that there should be a baseline or standard that products must be required to meet before being sent onto the market.
“When this is done, it will help check imitation or fake products on the market,” he advised.
To this end, he encouraged stakeholders in the industry to work together on producing to meet the national fertiliser requirement of 600,000 metric tonnes.