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Only 59 per cent of farmers apply inorganic fertilizer – Study

By
Morkporkpor Anku, GNA
    

Accra, July 17, GNA –
A study on fertilizer application in Ghana has revealed that only 59 per cent
of farmers apply inorganic fertilizer on their farms.

The study showed that
farmers in the savannah zone of Ghana were more likely to apply fertilizer than
their counterparts in the forest zone because most of the soils in the north
are more degraded than the south.

The proportion of
farmers applying fertilizer is higher in the Upper East Region, which stood at
93.5 per cent, followed by the Northern Region with 87.5 per cent and the Brong
Ahafo Region with 40.4 per cent with the Ashanti Region having the lowest rate
of application of fertilizer of 22.1per cent.

Mr Charles Nyaaba, the
Programmes Officer of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, who
commissioned the study, said government had since 2008 invested so much in
Fertilizer Subsidy Programme with the aim of improving access and utilisation
of fertilizer by small holder farmers who are majority of the farmer population
in Ghana.

     He
said the study showed that the fertilizer subsidy programme achieved its
objective of increasing fertilizer application to at least 50kg/ha as stated in
the 2006 Abuja Declaration but in terms of increasing yields, the research
could not establish that, especially as the agricultural contribution to Gross
Domestic Product had experienced a declined in recent times.

“According to the
research this could be due to lack of soil fertility profile in the various
ecological zones, hence any fertilizer is applied on any soil,” he added.

Professor Joseph
Awetori Yaro, Lecturer, Department of Geography at the University of Ghana,
said the survey recommended that the fertilizer subsidy programme must be a
short-term measure in solving the productivity problem.

He said in the long
term, government must adopt a more holistic approach in improving soil
fertility, including investing in the use of organic fertilizers.

He said fertilizer
imported into the country did not meet soil requirement and, therefore, a
wasted investment.

Prof Yaro said
government should create the enabling environment for the private sector to
enter into soil testing as a business or, on the other hand, government could
reduce subsidy amount and spend savings to undertake soil testing.

“When soil testing
system is established, farmers must present soil testing certificates showing
the type of fertilizers needed as a pre-condition to qualify for the subsidy
programme,” he said. 

The research also
recommended reduction of taxes and other administration expenses in ECOWAS
member countries to help reduce the high cost of fertilizer business so that
many farmers could afford, Dr Joseph Kofi Teye, a Lecturer at the Department of
Geography, University of Ghana, said.

He said there should
be the creation of conducive environment for private sector participation to
bridge the gap in agricultural research and development, farmer education,
farmer database information and institution of measure that would make fertilizer
business attractive for both the demand and supply side of the chain.

“Government should
allocate portion of the subsidy component to support monitoring of fertilizer
subsidy implementation; labeling or coloration of subsidised fertilizer and ensuring
early supply of fertilizers to farmers,” he said.

The research was
funded by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.

GNA

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