Dr Iddrisu Yahaya, an Agricultural Economist, says the erratic rainfall pattern in northern Ghana and the high cost of farm inputs across the country pose a serious threat to food security in the country.
He said while the poor rainfall pattern could affect crop yield, the high cost of inputs such as fertilizers and agrochemicals would deter farmers from cultivating staple crops, which were high fertilizer demand crops on large scale.
Dr Yahaya, who is with the Wa office of the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Wa.
“We are going to have some crops excess supply and the main staple, which is maize, rice, sorghum and millet, which are dependent on external inputs such as fertilizers will reduce and based on that there is going to be the risk of availability of our staple food.
“If there is no maize or sorghum available that’s a food security threat”, he explained, citing the high cost of maize in the market between Gh¢300.00 to Gh¢550.00 per 100kg bag as an indicator of the looming threat ahead.
Dr Yahaya observed that the smallholder farmer could not afford fertilizer, which was currently sold in the open market for about Gh¢400.00 to Gh¢4200.00 per 50kg bag, which he said would affect productivity at the end of the season.
“That is going to translate to a lot in our food value chain because it will increase foodstuff prices and exacerbate the current economic challenges today.
“It is not just the production but transportation from the hinterlands to even the urban centres that will affect the food prices,” he said.
Reports indicate that commercial farmers in the Sissala areas had reduced the number of acreages they hitherto cultivated for staple food such as maize with some drifting to the cultivation of soybeans and other low fertilizer demand crops due to the high cost of the inputs.
The Agricultural Economist, therefore, advised farmers to focus on increasing productivity with small farm sizes rather than wanting to increase production with many acres, which would affect yield.
Commenting on the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme, he said that the programme was laudable and could make the needed impact on the agricultural sector but that its implementation was fraud with many challenges, which had defeated its purpose.
According to him the current inadequate fertilizer in the country was partly due to the input dealers’ inability to import more of the inputs due to the failure of the Government to pay the monies it owed the dealers through the PFJ programme.
The Agricultural Economist, therefore, urged the government to prioritise the agricultural sector as it could transform the economy of the country since it is the source of every raw material for the factories and industries.
By Philip Tengzu, GNA