Dr Asseta Diallo, Senior Programmes Officer at AGRA Ghana, has expressed concerns that Ghana’s dependence on organic fertilisers for soil nutrients may not be sufficient to achieve food security.
According to Dr Diallo, about 65% of agricultural land in Ghana is depleted or severely degraded due to human activities such as mining. To address this situation, she suggested combining organic and inorganic fertilizers in the agricultural production chain to ensure that the country produces enough food to meet the needs of its citizens.
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Dr Diallo highlighted that a large volume of organic fertiliser such as two tonnes of high-quality legume biomass would provide less than 50 kilograms of nitrogen, which would suffice to produce only one tonne of maize grain.
She further explained that due to land degradation, Ghana had lost $4.2 billion over a period of 10 years from 2006 to 2015, which represented 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Mr Yaw Frimpong Addo, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, also expressed concerns about low farm productivity, lack of access to quality agro-inputs, and the low adoption of agronomic practices due to limited access to extension services.
To address these challenges, the government had initiated several measures, including the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), One Village One Dam, and Rearing for Food and Jobs programmes.
AGRA, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has increased its contribution to agriculture under the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) programme.
The organisation has focused on increasing farmers’ access to and adoption of quality seeds and fertilisers. They have also helped to create the enabling environment for private sector participation in the sector and improved access to quality inputs.
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Key results of the PIATA programme include the digitisation process of fertilizer registration and control, assisting 130,000 smallholder farmers to access 8000 metric tonnes of certified seeds, and producing 16.6 metric tonnes of breeder seed and 236 metric tonnes of foundation seeds, amounting to some three per cent of national foundation seeds.
The PIATA programme was launched in 2017 as a strategy for transforming agricultural systems through integrated delivery across economic zones and value chains.
The programme sought to transition Africa’s agriculture from subsistence to sustainable business occupations by enhancing in-country coordination and deepening engagements and collaboration with the private sector.
It intends to deepen multi-sectoral coordination and accountability in the agricultural sector at the continental, regional, and government levels. The members of PIATA include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and USAID, with AGRA as the implementing partner.