The PFJ is government’s major agriculture programme aimed at making Ghana self-sufficient in food production while creating jobs and reducing food imports.
But outlining challenges in the fertiliser value chain that could derail sustainability of the programme, the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) has pointed out that one of the major issues confronting farmers is an absence of fertiliser recommendations for specific crops and soils – largely due to lack of proper collaboration between manufacturers, researchers, policy implementers and the farmers.
The IFDC also pointed out that key stakeholders who supply fertiliser complain of lengthy bureaucracy in obtaining import permits, as well as clearance delays of fertiliser at the ports. The group added that there is a need to review and update the legal and regulatory framework for the fertiliser sector, so as to enable effective quality control and assurance in the industry.
Dr. William Atakora, a member of the Fertiliser Research and Responsible Implementation (FERARI) – a public-private programme under the IFDC, speaking to the B&FT in an interview after an Open-Door event by IFDC explained that the challenges are being addressed through a public-private collaboration to make the PFJ programme a success.
“The FERARI programme will bring the private sector and government together on the field to develop the fertiliser value chain with interdisciplinary research by PhD and post-doctoral researchers to address all the challenges identified,” he said.
He is optimistic that despite its challenges, the fertiliser sector is one with a bright future in terms of opportunities for increasing fertiliser demand and usage. “We believe the use of fertilisers will continue to rise, even after conclusion of the PFJ programme by government, because fertilisers and agro chemicals are seen as crucial to agriculture,” he stressed.
Dr. Atakora who is also a Soil Scientist, observed that data and surveys available show that most of Ghana’s food basket regions are beginning to display poor soil fertility – underscoring the need to make agro-chemicals available to achieve food sustainability.
According to him, stakeholders in the agricultural sector have recognised the depleting soil fertility; hence, they have called for the immediate use of inputs to produce healthier foods and avert food shortages. “The researchers we have engaged believe that there are prospects as they conduct demonstrations and research on the importance of fertiliser, its use and the right timing for application.”
With the advent of new technologies, Dr. Atakora maintained that the fertiliser sector portends a vibrant future due to new blends that are being formulated to meet soil and crop-specific needs.
In his address, the Regional Director, North and West Africa-IFDC, Oumou Camara, said interventions in the fertiliser sector are aimed at significantly boosting the production of higher quality food by eliminating wastage and destruction of agricultural water, land, seeds and fertiliser.
He added that the move will also help promote climate-smart and resilient farming systems and technologies among smallholder farmers, in order to reduce adverse environmental impacts associated with agricultural productivity. “IFDC emphasises collaboration with partners, working with smallholder farmers, encouraging women and youth participation while creating opportunities for employment in agro-industrial partnerships.”