Non-state actors discuss Fertilizer Subsidy Programme

Non-state actors in the Northern Region on Thursday discussed the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme (FSP) being implemented by the Government and called for its sustenance.

The actors including civil society organizations traditional rulers and religious bodies, hailed the programme for leading to a significant increase in food crop production and creating food security for the country.

Speaking at a day’s workshop to discuss the way-forward for the FSP in Tamale, Yun-yoorana (Chief) of Mamprugu-Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo), Yamyia Tooka II, said the FSP was one of the best things that had happened to the agricultural industry and withdrawing it would mean impoverishing poor small-scale farmers.

The workshop, organized by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), followed two similar ones organized by association for farmers, and fertilizer suppliers in Accra this year to solicit their inputs for the intended review of the FSP by the Government in 2015.

The PFAG is a registered umbrella body of four apex farmer organizations: Farmers Organizations Network in Ghana, Apex Farmers Organizations in Ghana, and the Ghana Association of Farmers and Fishermen, which works to advance the interest of small-scale farmers in Ghana.

The FSP, instituted formally by the Government in 2008, was to  help farmers increase their rate of fertilizer application as a means of increasing crop production and  to increase the country’s fertilizer application rate to at least 50 kilogrammes  (Kg) per hectare  (ha) as recommended in the Medium Term Agricultural Sector Investment Programme of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

This became necessary after statistics showed that Ghana’s fertilizer application rate was one of the lowest in the world, standing at 8kg/ha compared with 20kg/ha in sub-Sahara Africa, 99kg/ha in Latin America, 109kg/ha in South Asia, and 149kg/ha in East and South East Asia.

This low application rate was attributed to amongst others, the high cost of fertilizers as for example a bag of 50kg NPK fertilizer sells at $40.

However, just three years into the institution of the FSP, it is beset with a number of challenges, which threatens its effectiveness, and sustainability.

Some of these challenges include confusion, and or corruption in the distribution end of the subsidized fertilizer, subsidized fertilizer always or sometimes getting to farmers after the main farming season  is over, and currently financial squeeze from the sponsors of the programme, making government to announce an exit strategy, which may take effect in 2015.

Yamyia Tooka II  called on Government to take measures to prevent smuggling of subsidized fertilizer.

Mr Titus Segtub, Project Officer of SEND – Ghana,  civil society organization advocated that some quantity of subsidized fertilizer be allocated specifically for small-scale farmers so that large scale farmers, who had the financial strength would not buy all the product.

Mr George Bamombe, Programme Officer of Association of Church-based Development non-governmental organizations called on Government to increase the quantity of subsidized fertilizer.

Mr Mohammed Adam Nashiru, President of PFAG called for measures to make the FSP effective and sustainable.

Ms Victoria Adongo, Programme Coordinator of PFAG said the FSP helped to reduce poverty especially amongst vulnerable rural women and called for the sustenance of the FSP.

Source: GNA

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