Peri-Urban small holder farmers in the Northern Region are disgusted about government’s removal of fertilizer subsidy.
In 2008, the government of Ghana instituted a country-wide subsidy on 50Kg bags of four types of fertilizer in an effort to mitigate the effect of rising energy and food prices.
Farmers received the subsidy in the form of fertilizer based on region specific vouchers distributed by agricultural extension agents.
The fertilizer subsidy was considered as a unique example of a public-private partnership in which the government consulted heavily with fertilizer importers in the design stage and relied exclusively on the existing private distribution system to deliver fertilizer to farmers.
But in 2012, its sustainability slowed down and subsequently removed following financial constraints.
This situation, according to small holder farmers in the Northern Region is affecting their yield which is negatively impacting on their livelihood.
In a Citi News interview, their leader, Madam Rabi Adam called for a non-negotiable restoration of the fertilizer subsidy.
She spoke to Citi News at a day’s stakeholders meeting on rural agriculture held in Tamale.
The meeting was spearheaded by Tamale based Diamond Fm and sponsored by Donor fund Managers, Star Ghana under a project codenamed, “Tackling Bottlenecks to the Development of Rural Agriculture in the Northern Region: improving farmers’ access to Agricultural input supplies.”
She appealed to government to allocate 10% of the national budget to support rural agriculture.
Madam Rabi Adam suggested the establishment of farmer based credit schemes to bailout rural farmers whose source of livelihood is subsistence farming.
The veteran former agric officer bemoaned, “Women farmers especially in Northern Ghana due to higher illiteracy and socio-cultural reasons have had limited opportunities that continually have shrunk our activities instead of expanding our livelihoods.”
“There is high ignorance among a section of the farmer population and women are the most disadvantaged,” Madam Rabi Adam remarked.
National President of Peasant Farmers Association (PFA), Adam Mohammed Nashiru predicted food insecurity in Ghana if government failed to commit enough resources into the agric sector.
“We are likely to face food insecurity in the country because the yields are going to be poor and the expected yields that we will need to feed Ghanaians will not be achieved.”
He decried the little or no attention given peasant farmers during the distribution of agriculture machinery.
Adam Nashiru canvassed for transparency in the national distribution of agriculture inputs.
Mr. Nashiru nonetheless commended Diamond Fm and STAR Ghana for the orientation which he admitted was the first of its kind in the region.
He called for more of such interventions to empower peasant farmers who he said needed stimulus packages to commercialize their activities.
Northern Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), William Boakye Acheampong jumped to the defense of government saying, “Government has good intentions for the agric sector.”
He unveiled government’s importation of over 1000 tractors for distribution to farmers on hire purchase.
Mr. Boakye Acheampong urged farmers to adopt new technologies to boost their production capacity.
General Manager of Diamond Fm, Iddrisu Abdul Rashid explained the rationale behind the project saying, “Diamond Fm with support from STAR Ghana is using our platform to highlight the concerns of farmers alongside bring other relevant stakeholders on board to find alternative solutions to the challenges.”
He added, “We seek to increase information and understanding of targeted farmers on agricultural inputs where in the end a consensus on appropriate means of communicating to targeted farmers is reached.
On giving voice to rural farmers, Mr. Rashid said, “We are also pursuing the Farmer Based Organization (FBO) agenda to ensure that farmers have a strong voice: we are also through radio features and magazines addressing the cross cutting issues like access to quality education by farmers children, youth unemployment, gender and human rights since the quality of all these are tied to the livelihood of farmers.”
By: Abdul Karim Naatogmah/citifmonline.com/Ghana