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Apply correct amount of fertilizer to achieve food security – Agronomist

 

.- Dr Joseph Nketsia
Berchie, a Principal Research Scientist at the Crop Research Institute, has
said Ghana would not realise food security if farmers failed to apply the
correct amounts of fertilizers on their crops.

He noted that as farmers cultivated on
farmlands over time it depleted the nutrients in the soil, therefore, there was
the need to apply the correct amount of fertilizer to replenish the soil to
enhance crop yield.

Dr Berchie said Ghanaian farmers averagely
applied 50kilogrammes of fertilizer per a hectare of farmland compared to their
Chinese counterparts who applied 500kilogrammes of fertilizer on the same piece
of land, which results in increased crop yield.

He debunked popular perception that
application of fertilizer on crops would negatively affect the health of
consumers, saying if farmers should apply the correct amount of fertilizer on
crops it would not have any negative effects.

Dr Berchie, who is also an Agronomist, said
this at a Stakeholders Dialogue organised by Yara Ghana Limited, a fertilizer
company, in Accra on Wednesday.

The meeting discussed the scientific trials
and field demonstrations organised by Yara Ghana Ltd and the impact it would
have on crop productivity and income of farmers.

The meeting also saw the launching of a book
on Scientific Trials and Field Demonstrations undertaken by Yara Ghana Limited
in 2016/2017.

The company engaged about 12,000 farmers in
250 meetings, organised 256 field demonstrations and five scientific trials.

Dr Berchie cited an instance where Yara
fertilizer was applied on a hectare of farmland, which yielded 7.5 tonnes of
produce compared to 2.6 tonnes of produce on the same piece of land that did
not apply fertilizer.

Regarding measures his outfit was putting in
place to enhance application of fertilizers among farmers, Dr Berchie said it
was undertaking a programme known as Research Extension Linkage where committees
had been constituted in each region to sensitise farmers on proper application
of fertilizer.

It also conducted field demonstrations with
the farmers to enable them to understand the benefit of fertilizer usage.

He recommended the use of organic fertilizer
as an alternative means of replenishing the soil, adding that Ghana cannot
ensure food security if farmers failed to apply fertilizers on their crops.

Dr Berchie said most farmers in the country
did not apply fertilizer on their crops and those who applied it did not apply
it on root and tuber crops thus, affecting food production.

“As a country, we cannot attain food security
if we failed to apply fertilizer,” he stated, adding that; “the worrying aspect
is that most farmers in Ghana don’t apply fertilizer on their crops and this is
not good”.

Mr Danquah Addo-Yobo, the Managing Director of
Yara Ghana Limited, said the company stood for quality, reliability and
knowledge sharing with a strong commitment to supporting the growth and
profitability of farmers.

He said it partnered research institutions,
Non-Governmental Organisations, corporate bodies and also dealt directly with
farmers in terms of research on best farming practices, trials and
demonstrations to boost farmers’ productivity and profitability.

“There is a lot of global research and test on
our products so the quality of our products is not in doubt,” he said.

Mr Addo-Yobo noted that the outdooring of the
trials and demonstrations would help farmers decision regarding the choice of
fertilizer for any particular crop, which would support the government’s
flagship programme on ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ to thrive.

Mr Derrick Tuffuor-Mills, the West African
Agronomist at Yara, who made a presentation on the company’s scientific trials
and field demonstrations, said in terms of crop nutrition there was the need
for farmers to consider three key elements.

These are the crop knowledge where the farmer
was supposed to know the kind of crop to cultivate; the right fertilizer to
use; and the tools and skills to apply the fertilizer.

He said the company’s research findings in the
Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions showed that
farmers who applied the Yara fertilizers on their farms received higher crop
yield compared to those who used traditional control farming system.

The research was a partnership between the
company and other research institutions such as the Crop Research Institute,
Cocoa Research Institute, OPRI Research Company, and the University of
Development Studies, Tamale.

Mr Tuffuor-Mills said the scientific trials
were conducted on maize, cocoa, rice and onions, which he described as very
successful.

Yara Ghana Limited was established in Ghana in
2007 to strengthen the quality and in-depth of input supply and related
services along the agricultural value chain to increase the productivity of
Ghanaian farmers.

It has been able to supply fertilizers to more
than 240 million people across the globe.

 

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