Reconsider PFJ programme to improve agric production – GTLC tells gov’t
By Radio Mak
The Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition (GTLC) has called on the government to reconsider the subsidised fertilizer model of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme and to create a fund to ensure farmers’ access to cheaper credit facility.
It said the availability of cheaper credit facility to farmers would enable them to access all inputs they needed for their farming activities including fertilizers in the right quantity and at the right time.
This was contained in a press statement, signed by the Policy Officer of the GTLC, Mr Emmanuel Wullingdool, and copied to MAK NEWS in Wa on Thursday.
The statement indicated that government over concentration on supplying fertilizers to farmers would defeat the main objective of the PFJ programme of increasing yields as agriculture production was multi-faceted.
It said increasing agricultural production depended on a mix of factors such as adequate fertilizers at the appropriate time, agricultural extension advice and availability of water in the right proportion among others.
Please read the full statement bellow.
PRESS STATEMENT BY GTLC ON THE NEED TO SCRAP FERTILISER SUBSIDY AND CREATE A FUND TO ENSURE LOW COST OF CREDIT TO FARMERS
The Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition (GTLC) has observed with concern the recent shortage of subsidized fertiliser as well as increasing media reportage on cases of smuggling of the product in the Upper West Region and in some parts of the country. The Coalition has in the recent past made policy propositions to the government on the need to revise its model of fertiliser subsidy. GTLC has called on Government to stop the fertilizer subsidy. The Coalition wishes to re-state its position and call on the government of Ghana to reconsider the current model in the coming years.
GTLC notes with concern the mismatch between the supplied subsidized fertilizer and the required quantities needed by farmers. It needs to be pointed out that small holder farmers consist of over 80% of food crop farmers, and current quantities of subsided fertilizer falls short of demand. In 2017, the GTLC Agro Policy Performance Barometer (APPB) report estimated that only 18% of the needed fertiliser was supplied under the subsidy. Therefore, with or without smuggling, the subsidised fertilizer is not enough to reach all farmers.
The whole idea of supplying fertiliser as way of increasing farmer yields is overstated. Fertiliser is just one of the numerous inputs that is required to ensure increased yields. There appears to be an over concentration on fertilizer as a key issue in increasing the yields of farmers. Location specific and knowledge specific considerations are ignored with the entire fertiliser subsidy which is designed to be a one size fits all strategy. However, it needs to be stated that when fertilizer subsidy is well combined with other support services like extension advice, timely land preparation and the availability of water, then it can produce some positive effect. Until that mix is achieved the over concentration on fertilizer is masking government’s inadequate commitment to increase investment in the sector.
GTLC-APPB report estimates the average cost of credit to many small-scale farmers is over 150 percent in most parts of the country. Therefore, if Government is really committed to supporting farmers, then it should rather channel resources of the subsidy to create a fund that can ensure that farmers have cheaper source of credit. This could then help them access all the inputs they needed including fertiliser at the right time and in the right quantities as they desire from the open market. For example, to acquire a subsidised bag of fertilizer which costs GHC50, a farmer that may acquire a loan at the cost of 150 percent eventually buys subsidised fertilizer at GHC125. Data from 2018 shows that some farmers acquire one bag of fertilizer at the cost of 2 bags of maize at harvest.
In the light of the above, we wish to call on the Government to immediately scrap the subsidy on fertilizer. Government should ensure that the agriculture census is completed to enable targeting of farmers in the acquisition of credit at lower cost. Any attempt to stop smuggling by security services will only add to the cost of the subsidy.
GTLC believes that, this will help farmers to acquire other needed services on a timely basis and ensure long term on-farm investment by small scale farmers in the quest to develop and grow agriculture Ghana.
Issued from Wa, 21st August 2019.
By Emmanuel Wullingdool, Policy Officer, GTLC