Farmers in Ada in the Greater Accra Region are in a state of despair after several weeks of fruitless search for subsidized fertilizer which is currently scarce.
To purchase fertilizer, the farmers have to move from one agrochemical shop to the other; from Dordoekope to Kasseh and sometimes Accra.
For these farmers, if the situation is not salvaged immediately it could spell doom for food production in the months ahead.
It was nothing short of frustration for farmers who are part of the Dordoekope Irrigation Project. The project has about 200 farmers aside farmhands who work on more than 1000 acres of land in the Ada East District.
A farmer and executive member of the Dordoekope Irrigation Farmers Association, John Achia sharing his disappointment said the youth are gradually gaining interest in farming.
However constant issues regarding high cost and shortage of fertilizer are deterring factors.
“A 25kg bag of Planting for Food and Job fertilizer which was GH¢48.00 a few weeks ago now goes for GH¢70.00. This poses a big challenge to smallholder farmers,” he said.
Due to the shortage, agrochemical shops with stock are selling the 50kg of fertilizer close to GH¢180.00.
John Achia fears the price could rise further.
“Our fear is this could soon hit GH¢200.00 adding to our suffering. We are appealing to government to do the needful,” he said.
“To cover an acre, a farmer has to buy more than six bags of fertilizer that is if he or she is not heavily depending on it as the main source of nutrients for the crops.
“For the food producers, it is disheartening to spend so much on fertilizer without making room to spend money on insecticides to prevent insects and diseases destroying your farm.”
A vegetable famer and Assemblyman for Attortorkope Electoral Area, Emmanuel Ahumah Akortiah said last year, government subsidized fertilizer but this year the ones labelled Planting for Food and Jobs is expensive.
“About a month ago, the 25kg was going for GH¢53.00 instead of the GH¢ 48.00. Is government still subsidizing it?,” he asked.
Although he relies on manure, there are times he needs to apply fertilizer.
To cultivate an acre of green pepper for instance, farmers buy about 12 bags of fertilizer as the crop needs more nutrients.
A vegetable farmer and Vice Chair of the Ada Angorsikope Water Users Association, Ernest Agidi described the situation as depressing.
“We normally experience shortage of fertilizer from September through to April the following year. But shortage this year has happened earlier than expected and one on the open market is expensive,” he stated.
However, Ada East District Director of Agric, Victor Avah said government’s subsidized fertilizer is supplied from May through to November not September as being claimed.
He therefore encouraged the farmers to take advantage of the period of supply to plant their crops.
He does not believe delay in the supply of inorganic fertilizer should be a challenge as manure is a better option.
According to Victor Avah, manure is good for farming since it improves the soil structure as against depending on inorganic fertilizer which might make the soil more acidic.
“Farmers at the coast are taking advantage of manure application and other farmers must learn from that,” he advised.
The farmers however maintain that absence of fertilizer could lead to losses which would impact negatively on families and others who rely on farming as a source of livelihood.