The more small-scale farmers produce, the poorer they become when there are no markets for their produce, says Prof. Saa Ditto, Head of Food Nutrition and Security at the University of Development Studies, Tamale.

Food crops are perishable and in efforts to avoid post harvest losses, farmers dispose of produce at cheaper cost.

Prof. Ditto however believes that government’s intervention in price control is critical to protect farmers against selling below cost-price.

He adds that investments in transportation and market infrastructure are needed for reduction of input costs and to ensure remunerative producer prices.

“Anytime you have an inelastic situation, if you produce more without looking at the price side, the prices go down through the market and naturally because it is inelastic, the income you get from it gets less”, he observed.

According to the agronomist, government’s intervention should ensure that farmers increase production without gaining less income.

“If we allow the market to just function in our own situation, farmers will always loose and farmer swill always get out of business”, he stated.

Prof. Ditto is the lead researcher on the ‘Improving the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa’, under the GDN’s policy research papers.

The policy brief noted that fertilizer adoption requires complementary inputs, such as investment in soil and water conservation, for efficient and optimal nutrient uptake.

“The public and private sector should possibly go in partnership, and then engage in improving complementary inputs, such as irrigation and soil conservation and erosion control”, it said.

Prof. Ditto said if agriculture is to be sustainable, farmers should be able to break even after production.