Fertilizer troubles to end with availability of new data – Agriculture Minister

Ghana’s Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto ,has assured that new data made available to the government by researchers will help to enhance transparency and improve the reach of farm produce such as seedlings and fertilizer to farmers.

According to him, the non-existence of reliable data in the past has made it difficult to measure the impact of the government’s social intervention programmes such as the distribution of fertilizer across the country.

This, he said, created fertilizer shortages in some areas while in high supply at certain parts of the country.

Speaking at the launch of the Visualizing Insights on Fertiliser for African Agriculture (VIFAA) Ghana Dashboard, Dr. Akoto said the platform shows trends across the years on the government’s diversification of subsidy products, and the increase in support to reduce the price paid by farmers.

“The dashboard fills key fertilizer information gaps and will go a long way to supporting the government, development partners, and the private sector to respond to changes in the fertilizer market, ensuring that sufficient quantities and appropriate fertilizers reach farmers at the right time for planting.”

He assured that government will continue to use the data on the dashboard to inform its current and future subsidy policy efforts, to benefit all farmers considering the changing conditions in the fertilizer space.

He observed that with a reduction of fertilizer production globally, the effects were also felt in Ghana, with high international pricing leading to a shortage of fertilizer to farmers during the planting season.

He maintained that data is crucial now more than ever to inform the government, private sector, and development partners to navigate the negative effects of Covid-19 on the supply of fertilizer.

“As a mitigation effect, the government is also currently working on constructing fertilizer plants to take advantage of the net surplus of gas needed for Urea production in Ghana.”

Providing more details on the dashboard, the Country Lead of Development Gateway, a data management company, Wekem Avatim explained that the platform will provide data to help policy and investment decisions in the fertilizer sector.

“It will give up-to-date and comprehensive fertilizer data available to meet the needs of stakeholders and It is a user-friendly tool.”

He stated that the new dashboard was developed by Development Gateway, in collaboration with the AfricaFertilizer.org (AFO) initiative of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC).

He added that funding for the dashboard was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a collaborative effort with key partners from both the public and private sectors.

“The goal of the Dashboard is to help fertilizer industry actors respond appropriately to changes in the fertilizer market, to ensure that sufficient appropriate fertilizers reach our farmers at the right time for planting.

“It is expected that the VIFAA Dashboard in Ghana will enrich decision-making among stakeholders in the fertilizer industry. The key beneficiaries will be our farmers who work to ensure agriculture production and productivity,” he added.

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