Farmers in the country are waiting with bated breath for subsidized fertilisers as their crops face imminent stunted growth and poor yield this farming season, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana has said.

The association says farmers risk extraordinary crop failures this year if something drastic and urgent is not done to put subsidized fertilisers on the market.

At a press conference at the weekend, the president of the PFAG, Mr Mohammed Adam Nashiru, said while farmers had started planting and requiring fertilisers, there was no single grain of the commodity (subsidised ones) on the market.

He said the situation was a source of considerable concern to farmers.

Read below the full statement by the peasant farmers.

PRESS STATEMENT PRESENTED BY MR. MOHAMMED ADAM NASHIRU, PRESIDENT OF THE PEASANT FARMERS ASSOCIATION OF GHANA:

FATE OF FARMERS HANG IN A BALANCE AS GOVERNMENT DELAYS ON SUBSIDIZED FERTILIZER FOR 2012-2013 FARMING SEASON

Colleague Farmers present; Invited Guest; the Media; Ladies and Gentlemen: On behalf of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana and the Small Scale Women and Men Farmers as a whole, I wish to welcome all of you to this evening’s Press Conference.

This press conference is to raise, for public discussion, a worrying development which has the potential to negate the country’s efforts at attaining food security. What is this development? Ladies and gentlemen, it is the unavailability of subsidized fertilizer on the market for farmers at this crucial moment when the input is most needed. As you may be aware, we are in May and farmers have been planting since April yet there is no sign of subsidized fertilizer on the market. Farmers are jittery and anxious and rightly so.

Ladies and Gentlemen; The agriculture sector is key to overall economic growth and development of Ghana as it provides employment to about 50.6% i.e. 4.2million people of the labour force in the country and still has the potential of addressing the problem of graduate unemployment if conscious efforts are made to tackle the bottlenecks in the sector and link it up to industry. The sector also provides livelihoods to about 80 per cent of the rural folk.

In realising the need to maximize the full potential of the sector as a strategy for food security and poverty reduction, Ghana in 2003 joined other African countries to make a declaration to devote at least 10 percent of national budget to the agricultural sector. The significance of the declaration finds expression in the urgent need to address investment requirements of the sector. Successive policies such as Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) I, &II and the Medium Term Agricultural Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) were all introduced to modernize agriculture and achieve a target agricultural GDP growth rate of at least 6% annually and halving poverty by 2015 which is in consonance with the MDG 1. In spite of all these, between 2000 and 2010 the average growth rate was 4.7%.

Ladies and Gentlemen; Sub-Programmes such as the Youth in Agriculture Programme, National Buffer Stock Company, Agricultural Mechanization Centres, Block Farming and the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme were all introduced to facilitate the success of this objective but the question is whether they are sufficient.

One key programme that has so far yielded significant impact and hailed by farmers as a panacea to low crop yield if properly manage is the “FERTILIZER SUBSIDY PROGRAMME (FSP)”.

Friends from the Media; The main reasons for its introduction were to help farmers increase their rate of fertilizer application as a means of increasing crop productivity and production, and also to increase the country’s fertilizer application rate to at least 50 kilogrammes (kg) per hectare (ha). This became necessary after statistics showed that Ghana’s fertilizer application rate was one of the lowest in the world, standing at 8kg/ha compared with 20kg/ha in sub-Sahara Africa, 99kg/ha in Latin America, 109kg/ha in South Asia, and 149kg/ha in East and South East Asia.

This low application rate was attributed to amongst other things, the high level of poverty among small Scale Farmers, low profit margin and high cost of fertilizers. For example a bag of 50kg NPK fertilizer was US40 Dollars in 2008. Even after government subsidy which reduced the price to 50%, Small Scale Farmers especially women were still finding it difficult to purchase since they needed money for other inputs and to cater for cost of production.
Ladies and Gentlemen; on a more frightening note, the programme faces a number of challenges, which threatens its effectiveness and sustainability. Some of the challenges are:

• Subsidized fertilizer is still far too expensive for Small Scale Farmers to afford
• Subsidized fertilizer often gets to farmers late or in the middle of the season when it is no more useful to the crops
• Delays in releasing funds to fertilizer importers for consistent supply etc

Invited Guests; these problems are far from over as there is still no subsidized fertilizer in the market even though most farmers have since April 2012 planted and are still waiting for subsidized fertilizer which is locked up in the pipeline.

We the Small Scale Farmers who are the backbone of agriculture in this country are doing our part to make this country food secured but the following areas are critical to us:
• Government delays in releasing subsidized fertilizer for 2012 farming season
• Additional incentives for farmers to compensate for high cost of living due to the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure for Public Sector Workers which led to high commodity prices in the local market for farmers
• General increased in commodity prices due to increased in fuel prices in the world market
• Depreciation of the cedi.
• Climate change and unreliable weather conditions

Ladies and Gentlemen; The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana on behalf of all Small Scale Producers in the Country are appealing to government to pragmatically approach this issues with all the urgency it deserves and make subsidized fertilizer AVAILABLE AT AFFORDABLE PRICES AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE, and also provide additional incentives to Small Scale Farmers that will enable them live a comfortable life to continue to provide the country with the needed food supply.

ON THE G8-SUMMIT

Ladies and Gentlemen; We wish to use this platform to wish the President, his Excellency John Evans Atta Mills and his other African counterparts, President Yayi Boni of Benin, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethoipia and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania well and fruitful deliberation in the G8 Summit.

Ladies and Gentlemen; Our concerns as Small Scale Producers in Africa and for that matter Ghana is the intention of G8 Leaders to launch “New Alliance to increase Food and Nutrition Security” in this year’s summit. This is neither new nor alliance. We see this as a diversionary tactic to cover up for the failure of G8 Leaders to deliver on their previous promise to poor countries that came up with good plans for agriculture.

Friends from the Press; Three years ago at L’Aquila in Italy, President Obama rallied the G8 Leaders to support poor countries to grow more and earn more. The initiative included $22 billion financial pledge over three years to invest in countries’ owned plans over three years if they came up with good plans.

Too many of these countries plans are still waiting. The L’ Aquila food security ended in December and as at last year the G8 Leaders have not met half of their pledge.

Colleague Farmers; We will like our president and his colleagues Africa Leaders in the Summit to carry our message that we the Small Scale Producers are doing our best to make the continent food secured and if the G8 Leaders are serious about fighting hunger and fulfilling the promises made in L’Aquila and Rome, they must commit to a modest scale-up of food and nutrition security investments from $7billion to $10 billion a year in the final 3 years before the Millennium Development Goals expire rather than coming up with a new rhetoric.

Colleague Farmers; Invited Guest; the Media; Ladies and Gentlemen: On this note I will like to thank you all for coming and wish you a fruitful discussion.
Thank you

Contacts: 0243540629, 0243328095, 0244487646

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