Ghana: CSOs in agriculture call for lower usage of fertilizer to protect the environment

Some Civil Society organisations (CSOs), including the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFA) and the Centre for No-Till Agriculture, have advocated for a new policy that will gradually discourage the use of fertiliser while encouraging the adoption of agroecology in farming.

The CSOs argue that the world is moving from excessive usage of fertiliser to the application of agroecology techniques which provide an opportunity for increased food production while protecting the environment and biodiversity.

This, they say, will not just protect the environment but also prevent the instances of Ghanaian farm produce from being rejected during export.

“If you look all over the world the usage of fertiliser is coming down, but the reverse is the case here in Ghana. We have encouraged its usage to the extent that it is being abused,” said the Head of Programmes and Advocacy at the PFAG, Dr. Charles Nyaaba.

Speaking on a survey titled ‘Sustainable Farming and Political Participation of Small-Scale Farmers in Decision Making in Ghana’, Dr. Nyaaba disclosed that there is a general increase in the use of agrochemicals and mechanised farming practices across the country.

He stated that the use of organic fertilisation for soil fertility management is considerably higher in the northern part of the country compared to the south.

“Farmers in the north were well aware of the decline in soil fertility, which they acknowledged was as a result of the increased use of agrochemicals,” he said – adding that the difficulty with agroecology farming in Ghana has got to do with getting labour and the high demand for fertiliser due to poor soils.

Providing details on the survey, he observed that key informants raised issues about policy inconsistencies, commodity price instability, and credit insufficiency as major concerns of farmers.

He is of the opinion that there is a need to conduct an intensive campaign against the excessive use of agrochemical inputs and practices which degrade the soil’s fertility.

“Policymakers need to acknowledge the issue of commodity price instability since farm-gate prices are low and need to be standardised across production areas. There is a need for intensive research on organic fertiliser and agrochemicals,” he said.

Dr. Nyaaba expressed worry that a lot of farmers in the north are stuck with the usage of fertiliser compared to farmers in the southern part of the country.

He advocated that farmers should be introduced to other climate change adaptation strategies, and must be made to focus on empowering farmer organisations and linking them to strong markets in a value chain approach.

In addition, Dr. Nyaaba said farmers should be encouraged to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services in their communities by avoiding bush-burning.

Highlighting some steps taken by the government to create awareness on climate change, the Head of Environment and Climate Change at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Kingsley Amoako, said Ghana is implementing the Resilient Against Climate Change Project (REACH) which is a component of the EU’s national indicative programme, ‘Productive Investment for Agriculture in Savannah Ecological Zones’ funded by the 11th European Development Fund.

He explained that the overall objective of REACH is to foster a sustainable inclusive agricultural development supporting food security and steady income for communities in the Northern Savannah ecosystem of Ghana by 2025.

“The specific objective of the programme is to establish the conditions for the sustainable and inclusive rural economy through the enhanced implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation practices in agriculture at district and community levels,” he said.

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