Establish special fund for peasant farmers – GTLC

Wa- The Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition (GTLC) has called for establishment of special fund to ensure low cost of credit to farmers in place of the current subsidised fertilizer system, which is riddled with smuggling.

GTLC is concerned about growing reports of subsidised fertiliser shortage and increasing media reports of smuggling of the farm manure in several parts of the country, especially in the Upper West Region.

The Coalition recently made policy propositions to government on the need to revise its model of fertiliser subsidy in which it called on policymakers to stop the fertilizer subsidy.

Mr Emmanuel Wullingdool, Policy Officer of GTLC told the Ghana News Agency that it wished to re-state its position on the earlier propositions and called on government to reconsider the current model in the coming years.

GTLC notes with concern the mismatch between the supplied subsidized fertilizer and the required quantities needed by farmers, he said.

It needs to be pointed out that small holder farmers consist of over 80% of food crop farmers, and current quantities of subsided fertilizer falls short of demand, he added.

In 2017, the GTLC Agro Policy Performance Barometer (APPB) report estimated that only 18 percent of the needed fertiliser was supplied under the subsidy.

Therefore, with or without smuggling, the subsidised fertilizer is not enough to reach all farmers, Wullingdoo said.

He added: The whole idea of supplying fertiliser as a way of increasing farmer yields is overstated, and that Fertiliser is just one of the numerous inputs that is required to ensure increased yields.

He said it was important to state that combining fertilizer subsidy with other support services like extension advice, timely land preparation and the availability of water, could produce substantial positive effect.

Until that mix is achieved the over concentration on fertilizer is masking government’s inadequate commitment to increase investment in the sector.

The GTLC-APPB 2017 report estimated that the average cost of credit to many small-scale farmers was over 150 percent in most parts of the country.

If government is really committed to supporting farmers, then it should rather channel resources of the subsidy to create a fund that can ensure that farmers have cheaper source of credit, Mr Wullingdoo said.

He noted that the move would help local farmers to access all the inputs they needed including fertiliser at the right time and in the right quantities from the open market.

Data from 2018 shows that some farmers acquire one bag of fertilizer at the cost of two bags of maize at harvest.

In the light of the above, we wish to call on the Government to immediately scrap the subsidy on fertilizer, Wullingdoo said. Government should ensure that the agriculture census is completed to enable targeting of farmers in the acquisition of credit at lower cost.

He warned that any attempt to stop smuggling by the security agencies would only add to the cost of the subsidy.

The National Fertilizer Subsidy Programme is one of Ghana’s major agricultural interventions, which the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been spearheading since 2008.

Source: Ghana News Agency