Government announces fertilizer and seed subsidy for 2013

The Ministry of Food and Agricultural (MoFA) has announced fertilizer and seed subsidy for the 2013 farming season at a press briefing in Accra on Tuesday. Mr Clement Kofi Humado, Minister of Food Agriculture, who addressed the press, said the Ministry, through a careful consideration, came up with selling prices of the various types of fertilizers and seeds for the farming season to ensure farmers got high yield. The announcement, which takes effect from Tuesday, April 16, 2013, listed the fertilizers and seeds cost components. A 50 kilogram bag of compound fertilizer of all types would cost 51 Ghana cedis while urea would cost 50 Ghana cedis for a 50 kilogram bag, but 50 kilogram bag of sulphate of ammonia would be sold at 44 Ghana cedis. The seed price of 45 kilogram bag of maize would be sold at 45 Ghana cedis and a 50 kilogram bag of rice seed would be sold at 35 Ghana cedis while a 45 kilogram bag of soya bean would be sold at 45 Ghana cedis. Mr Humado said by those prices government was subsidising fertilizers at an average of over twenty-one percent and seeds at over 36 percent. The Ministry has, subsequently, charged metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) to ensure efficient implementation of the policy. Mr Humado said the subsidy was targeting smallholder farmers cultivating maize, rice, sorghum and millet with priority on food crop farmers in the savannah areas. The policy also focuses on out-grower farmers registered under recognised nucleus farmers and companies. But Mr Humado said those groups with verifiable list of out-growers cultivating maize, rice, sorghum and millet would have to apply to MoFA to procure at such rates. He said government policy to revive the cotton industry would continue for a year but added that subsequently the subsidy would be withdrawn. He said women farmers would receive priority in the allocation of the subsidised fertilizers and seeds. Mr Humado said the policy was targeting smallholder farmers to ensure more needy farmers had access to the subsidised fertilizers and seeds for the year. He said under the subsidy programme, six farmer fertilizer companies had been given quotas for each region. He said companies would continue to import, clear the fertilizers from the ports, pay all charges and deliver allocated quantities to the regions and districts for sale to farmers by registered agents. Mr Humado called on MMDCEs to assist in monitoring the sales and distribution of the inputs in their jurisdictions to avoid abuse. He said the Ministry would collaborate with the Ghana Agro Inputs Dealers Association, the Seed Producers Association of Ghana and other stakeholders to monitor and track the quantities of seeds bought and distributed. He said the waybill receipt system, farmer passbook and daily record sheets would still be employed in the distribution and sales of the inputs. “The passbooks are available in all MoFA offices throughout the country,” he said, and urged the public to report any MoFA staff or person who offered the pamphlets for sale or attempt to manipulate the use of the passbook. Though some farmer groups have welcomed the move others said the cost of input was still high compared to the cost of ploughing and applying the fertilizers. Mrs Vicotria Adongo, Progamme Coordinator of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, noted that the price of maxi bag of maize was unacceptably low; attributing it to the lack of readily available market and buffer. But the Minister said the Ministry was liaising with the private sector to create buffer and encourage exportation to lessen the impact on farmers. Stakeholders called on government to address the issue of smuggling holistically saying fertilizer smuggling went on within farmer groups and non-farmer agents.