The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has introduced some farmers and assembly members in the Gushegu Municipality to a fertilizer subsidy project as part of efforts to ensure its successful implementation.
The Efficient Fertiliser Subsidy Programme for Enhanced Food Production by Small Holder Farmers (SPARK) project is a four-year initiative being implemented by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and SEND-GHANA, both non-governmental organisations.
Funding from the project is from the International Budget Partnership to advocate for timely delivery and enhanced access to subsidised fertilizer.
Under the project, the capacities of the farmers and the assembly members were built to enable them to identify issues and challenges associated with the implementation of the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme (FSP) in the municipality and to seek solutions from relevant local authorities to help improve productivity for small holder farmers.
The SPARK project is also to advocate the targeting of small holder farmers, especially women, a clear link between annual budgetary allocation and the actual number of targeted beneficiaries of the FSP, as well as advocate for the transparent procurement process.
It is being implemented in seven districts including Hohoe, Shai Osudoku, West Mamprusi, Mamprugu Moaduri, Pusiga and Sissala East.
Head of Programmes and Advocacy at PFAG, Dr Charles Nyaaba, who elaborated on the project at two-day inception and advocacy meeting for the farmers and assembly members at Gushegu in the Northern Region, which ended on Thursday, said the project became necessary following the challenges associated with the FSP, which were affecting the productivity of small holder farmers.
PFAG will within the next two weeks hold similar meetings in all the beneficiary districts to introduce farmers and Assembly Members to the project and build their capacities for effective advocacy on the project.
The government introduced the FSP to amongst others stabilise fertiliser prices, increase fertiliser usage by farmers, and improve crop yields and livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
However, the FSP has been fraught with some challenges including late delivery of the product to farmers and some farmers not accessing it at all.
This situation is attributed to procurement maladministration and poor targeting of beneficiaries amongst others.
Dr Nyaaba, therefore, urged farmers and the assembly members to take keen interest in the implementation of the FSP by providing information on whether or not they got the right quantities of fertiliser as well as expose companies supplying sub-standard fertiliser and smugglers of subsidised fertiliser to help improve the FSP for improved access and productivity.
He said PFAG would engage the Ministry of Finance to increase budgetary allocation to support the purchase of inputs and FSP to ensure their sustainability.
He added that PFAG would also engage national-level authorities, including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to ensure that issues and challenges identified by farmers, which would not be resolved at the local level, received attention at the national level.
Mr Mustapha Zakaria, Director of Gushegu Municipal Department of Agriculture, urged farmers and Assembly Members to explain the FSP to other farmers in the municipality and come out with suggestions on how to sustain the supply of subsidised fertilizer.
Some participants complained about the shortage of subsidised fertiliser during the subsidy period forcing them to buy the products at high prices, which was affecting their productivity and incomes.