The government, through the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has initiatied measures to ensure the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme yields the expected results by targeting smallholder farmers.
The initiative, if successful, will also help reduce the high rate of smuggling the PFJ inputs to neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso.
Mr Emmanuel Sasu Yeboah, the Upper West regional Director of the Department of Agriculture, said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa.
“The government has contracted a consultant to register peasant farmers and provided them with cards which they would use to access the fertilizer.
“Each registered peasant farmer has a quota to take, that is, five acres worth of fertilizers, so there are agents at the retail shops who will scan the QR codes on cards anytime you go to buy the fertilizers,” he explained.
Mr Yeboah acknowledged that access to fertilizer had been a challenge for farmers, but added that some fertilizer had started arriving in the region for the open market.
He, however, said plans were in place to provide smallholder farmers with PFJ fertilizer which was affordable compared to the price of the fertilizer in the open market.
According to him, a 50kg bag of the PFJ fertilizer was about Gh₵320.00 while a 50kg bag of fertilizer in the open market was about Gh₵380.00.
Meanwhile, checks by the GNA in Wa revealed that a 50kg bag of NKP fertilizer in the open market, which was GH¢120.00 last year is now being sold at GH¢410.00, Urea, which used to be sold at GH¢110.00 is now sold at GH¢450.00, and a 50kg of Sulphate of Ammonia, which was sold at GH¢100.00 now sells at Gh¢300.00.
Mr Yeboah observed that many farmers were likely to venture into soy beans farming due to the difficulty in accessing fertilizer and its attendant high price since soy beans farming did not require much fertilizer as compared to the maize farming.
Mr Salifu Issifu Kanton, the Executive Director for the Community Development Alliance (CDA), had chastised the government for the poor implementation of the PFJ programme, and advocated a regimented system of the programme implementation that would target smallholder farmers.