Hunger and hardship loom as prices of farm inputs soar – NGO

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Mr Salifu Issifu Kanton, the Executive Director of Community Development Alliance (CDA) Ghana, has expressed fear of potential hunger and hardship among the ordinary citizens due to increasing prices of farm inputs.

farmersHe said the alarming increase in the prices of the farm inputs would negatively affect smallholder farmers since they would not be able to acquire the inputs to produce.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa on the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme ahead of this year’s farming season, Mr Kanton advocated a regimented form of the PFJ programme targeting the smallholder farmers.

A 50kg bag of NKP fertilizer in the open, which was GH¢120.00 last year was now sold at GH¢410.00, Urea, which used to be GH¢110.00 was now sold at GH¢450.00, and a 50kg of Sulphate of Ammonia was sold at GH¢100.00 but now sold at Gh¢300.00.

“I am told now a bag of fertilizer is going for between 350 and 400. How many smallholder farmers can afford that, now even that we are being told it is most likely that the fertilizer will not be available.

“What that means is that, we should be getting ready for declaration of hunger because most grains will not be produced. Now the prices of agrochemicals have doubled beyond the reach of the smallholder farmer,” Mr Kanton explained.

He said majority of the value chain actors who were supporting smallholder farmers with input credit were pulling out, “because, it doesn’t make economic sense anymore” to keep investing without returns.

The Executive Director, therefore, advocated an urgent need for a support system for smallholder farmers to avoid the tendency of relying on other countries such as Burkina Faso to import food.

Mr Kanton observed that the much-touted PFJ programme, which could have brought relief to smallholder farmers had been marred with hard-handed corruption, which a gang of cartels was spearheading its implementation.

He indicated that as a value chain actor in the agricultural sector, he had gathered experiences with the PFJ programme, its operational modalities, and ill practices associated with it.

“None of the value chain actors who is given a contract to supply PFJ inputs has any record of farmers they have supplied the inputs to, so how do they get their certificates signed and how are they paid. So, even all the fertilizer that is smuggled they still turn round to make claims on government as though the fertilizers were given to farmers here,” he stated.

Mr Kanton, therefore, suggested liberalising the fertilizer and inputs market and properly targeting the less privileged smallholder farmer with the subsidies rather than allowing privileged individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor farmer.

By Philip Tengzu, GNA

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