Mr Yahya Iddrisu, the 2012 Tano North District Best Farmer in the Ahafo Region, says the increase in chemical fertiliser prices is forcing many farmers to switch to chicken droppings to fertilise their farmlands.
He said in the face of the growing costs and shortages of subsidised fertiliser, some smallholder farmers were downsizing their farmlands, and warned that if nothing was done promptly to reverse the trend, Ghana would suffer food insecurity and a deterioration in rural employment.
Poultry manure is the faeces of fowls that is utilised as an organic fertiliser since it contains the greatest nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus of any animal manure.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, Mr Iddrisu commended the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative introduced in 2017 that had a 50-per cent fertiliser subsidy and supply of seeds to cushion farmers.
However, he said, both the fertiliser subsidy and seeds no longer existed, emphasizing that, “Now there is no subsidy on any fertilizer anymore.”
He said that the 50kg fertilizer that was sold for GH¢80 last year is now being sold for GH¢400 while that of 25kg sold for GH¢45 in 2021 is now going for GH¢200 this year.
Again, he noted that a weedicide that sold for GH¢16 last year was now being sold for GH¢50, and this had caused farmers great distress as they were unable to afford the current prices of fertilizer and other critical farm inputs, and had to switch to using poultry manure.
To help farmers stay in business and not quit farming, he said, “Some people are turning to poultry droppings instead of the chemical fertilizer, and even that one too the demand has pushed up the price higher than farmers’ means.”
He stated that 25kg of poultry droppings, which was sold for one or two Ghana cedis last year, was now sold for 10 Ghana cedis, but added that if not for the favourable rainfall pattern seen this year, farmers would have cut down production even further due to ballooning fertiliser prices and other agricultural inputs.
Mr Iddrisu called on government to redirect financial resources to providing fertilizer and other critical farm inputs to farmers to help increase food productivity and absorb external shocks crippling Ghana’s economy.
He also observed that the war between Russia and Ukraine should be a lesson for Ghana to invest more resources into the production of local food crops such as cassava, beans, maize, plantain, rice and yam.
“What our leaders must do now is begin to identify opportunities in crises like this Russia and Ukraine war, and invest more resources in assisting smallholder farmers with inputs such as fertiliser, weedicides, and others,” he said.
Adding, “We should stop talking about wheat and start thinking about what local people eat, like koko and koose, akpele, okro, plantain, cassava, maize and yam. These should dominate our thinking and planning.”
Contributing, Mr Emmanuel Wullingdool, a Consultant in Agriculture and International Farmers, said despite having good intentions, the planting for food and jobs initiative failed to address the long-standing problems that local farmers face, such as a shortage of storage space, water, and transportation for farm products.
“A country with food security is a peaceful country as food security is national security,” he said, calling on the government to provide the budget early to guarantee that various Agriculture Departments in Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies help farmers in crop production.
By Naa Shormei Odonkor