Farmers want Akufo-Addo to ‘reform farm input subsidy programme’

Lorlornyofm
By Lorlornyofm June 4, 2018 05:38

Farmers want Akufo-Addo to ‘reform farm input subsidy programme’

Smallholder farmers in Ghana have petitioned the President to adopt a more sustainable investment drive for agriculture and cut down on over-reliance on the use of inorganic fertilizer.

Among other things, the Peasant Farmers’ Association of Ghana (PFAG) wants Nana Akufo-Addo to adopt agro-ecology farming method, a concept the association of smallholder farmers believes will ensure food safety.

The agro-ecology concept involves the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems.

“Your Excellency, it must be acknowledged that Ghana government under your leadership took bold steps and increased investment in the agricultural in 2017 under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ). However, the greater part of the investment was on the importation of subsidised fertilizer which runs counter to your own agenda of getting our country out of economic hardship and prepare for long-term sustainable development without aid or donor dependence (‘development without aid’),” the Association said in the petition to the President.

PFAG says the recent shortage of maize and other targeted crops supported under the PFJ programme and the current high prices of basic food items in Ghana also call to question the effectiveness of the investment which focuses more on subsidised fertilizer.

“It was reported in the media that Ghanaian poultry farmers are lamenting of non-availability of maize for poultry feeds and high prices of maize in the Ghanaian market. Your Excellency, Ghana embarked on fertilizer subsidy programme since 2008 to date. The reach of these subsidies remains limited whilst efforts to improve targeting for superior performance appear unsuccessful,” the small-holder farmers said.

The small-holder farmers, who constitute over 83% of farmers in the country, say there is a need for the President to lead a reform in the current Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP).

The goal of FISP is to enhance food self-sufficiency by increasing smallholder farmers’ access to and use of improved agricultural inputs, thereby boosting the incomes of resource-poor farmers.

“The Current trends in the rising cost and share of the FISP in public expenditure raise questions about the fiscal sustainability of the programme and value for money; failure to reform the FISP will only exacerbate the budgetary squeeze on other critical areas and make farmers dependent on chemical fertilizer which is not necessarily healthy for our environment and our health,” the farmers said.

Recommendations

They are recommending the following:

1. Government needs to urgently incorporate climate change reduction as a key investment area and increase public sensitisation on the need to protect the environment for today and the future generation;

2. There is a need to re-orient public expenditure priorities in order to focus more on important agricultural development priorities such as rural infrastructure and training in agroecological farming skills. In particular we recommend investment in technologies that focus on recognising, preserving and utilising appropriate traditional and indigenous knowledge. There is no evidence of value for money in investing heavily on FISP;

3. FISP reforms by Government needs to more aggressively embrace and promote sustainable agriculture to smallholder farmers. This will require an integrated soil fertility management approach that:

a. Promotes the joint use of organic and inorganic fertilizers in the short run and promote organic fertilizer in the long run

b. Consciously promote agro-ecological farming through farmer-managed natural regeneration of trees, agroforestry, composting and management of farmyard manure to produce organic sources of nitrogen

c. Promotes and encourages various approaches to sustainable land management (e.g. agroforestry, intercropping and crop rotation with legumes, and soil and water conservation technologies).

The farmers’ petition to the President is supported by the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) with funding from the Open Society Initiative in West Africa (OSIWA) and Groundswell International.

Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | George Nyavor | george.nyavor@myjoyonline.com

Lorlornyofm
By Lorlornyofm June 4, 2018 05:38
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