Farmers in Aburi-Amanfo area in the Akuapem South Municipality have raised several concerns over the continuous increase in fertilizer prices as it threatens farm productivity.
According to the farmers, prices of fertilizers are always increased within a span of three months, denying many of them the critical input and forcing several others to reduce their farm sizes to just a few acres.
Mr. Emmanuel Ababio, a 44-year-old pineapple farmer and a member of Dumpomg Pineapple Cooperative, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that this year, no farmer has benefited from the government subsidized fertilizer initiative introduced as part of efforts to promote the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme.
The PFJ was the government flagship programme implemented to sustain increased productivity, guarantee food security and create opportunities for jobs after its first phase from 2017 to 2020.
In line with this, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta in his presentation of the 2022 budget statement to parliament on November 17 this year, captured the intention of the government to continue with the PFJ programme.
The move seeks to provide improved seeds and fertilizers at subsidized prices to farmers to help increase the volume of agricultural production.
However, a market survey conducted by the Ghana News Agency in Aburi-Amanfo revealed that some farmers have either reduced the size of their farmlands or stopped farming due to the continuous increase of fertilizer prices.
He explained that the farmers’ cooperative helps the situation by going in for loans for the group for farmers to engage in their farming activities.
An agrochemical shop dealer, Mr. Owuraku Darko, highlighted changes in fertilizer prices overtime, saying that, previously 15:15 fertilizer which cost GH¢120.00 now costs GH¢190.00, and Urie, which was sold at GH¢100.00 was currently being sold at GH¢260.00.
Ammonia that was previously sold at GH¢90.00 rose to GH¢230.00 while a run-up weedicide that was sold at GH¢15.00 climbed to GH¢37.00 by the third quarter of this year.
Mr. Darko observed that the purchase of agrochemicals from his shop was cheaper than the prices sold in different shops, stating that he has drastically reduced it because farmers were unable to meet up with the running system of prices.
He blamed COVID-19 for the current predicament of farmers, saying, PFJ fertilizer companies were unable to produce up to the quantity they formerly produced due to the unavailability of resources.
Mr. Kweku Anane, a maize farmer, said that unlike previous years when he used to cultivate one and a half acres of farmlands; he was currently cultivating maize on half an acre of the farm due to financial constraints.
He appealed to the government to help resuscitate the PFJ programme as it is helpful for farmers to sustain the gains made in farm productivity.