The “Visualising Insights on Fertilizer for African Agriculture (VIFAA) Dashboard” is a data generating platform for information on fertilizer for planning and policy purposes.
The Dashboard would also assist industry actors in Ghana to respond appropriately to changes in the fertilizer market, while ensuring that sufficient and appropriate fertilizers reached Ghanaian farmers at the right time.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture co-developed the Dashboard with the AfricaFertilizer.org (AFO) of the International Fertilizer Development Centre, and Development Gateway, under a public and private sector initiative, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, in a speech read on his behalf at the launch, said the creation of the Dashboard filled key fertilizer information gaps, which would go a long way to support the Government, development partners and the private sector to respond to changes in the fertilizer market.
It would also ensure that sufficient quantities and appropriate fertilizers reached farmers at the right time for planting, he said.
Dr Akoto said, in Ghana, the food crops subsector was dominated by smallholder farmers whose cropping practices were characterised by low use of quality seeds and fertilizers, and so through the introduction of the Planting for Food & Jobs Programme, the Government empowered farmers with knowledge and skills to maximize the benefits of used subsidised inputs.
The VIFAA Ghana Dashboard, which also showed trends across the years on the Government’s diversification of subsidy products, and the increase in support to reduce the price paid by farmers, would be an added advantage, he said.
The Government would, therefore, continue to use the data on the Dashboard to inform “our current and future subsidy policy efforts to benefit all farmers considering the changing conditions in the fertilizer sector,” he said.
The Minister said with a reduction in fertilizer production globally, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with farmers bearing the brunt of high pricing and shortage, where Ghana was not an exception, data had become crucial now more than ever to inform the Government, private sector and development partners to navigate the negative effects of Covid-19 on the supply of fertilizer.
Dr Afriyie encouraged all stakeholders to leverage on the data to guide their decision making and collaboratively work towards food security, employment opportunities and reduced poverty.
Ms Nana Serwaa Amoako, the Senior Advisor and Head of Results Delivery, Office of the President, described the VIFAA Dashboard as an initiative the Ghana Fertilizer Expansion Programme was proud to be associated with.
She said the increasing prices of fertilizer raw materials and compound NPK across the world had brought difficulty on most Sub-Saharan African countries in terms of fertilizer availability.
Also at the global level, as countries began to emerge from the Covid-19 effects, demand for fertilizers had been high due to the widespread need for countries to restock, Ms Amoako said.
“We are now seeing countries taking steps to mitigate the shortage in the regions. It is evident that the lack of timely data and a clear trend analysis impacted on the ability of policy makers to respond effectively,” she said.
Ms Amoako said it was for those reasons that monitoring fertilizer sector data was crucial, making the launch of the Dashboard a necessity.
Mr Dominic Donkoh, the Country Representative, West Africa Fertilizer Association, said the Association understood the need to have trustworthy data on all aspects of the sector, and so it had been a key partner in the VIFAA programme from the outset.
“We have led the call to see more up to date data from price to consumption, and we will work with our members to make more data available so that all of us can make better planning decisions that benefit farmers,” he said.
“We are pleased to have the dashboard as an important resource and business tool, but recognise that all of our work must continue to ensure we support the VIFAA partners to maintain and expand it in the years to come.”
Mr Wekem Raymond Avatim, the Ghana Country Lead, Gateway Development, said the tool would specifically fill key fertilizer information gaps, provide data to help policy and investment decisions, and make up-to-date and comprehensive fertilizer data available to meet the needs of stakeholders.
The dashboard concept had been introduced in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria as focal countries within the Sub-region due to the availability of data within these countries.