It is worrying to hear the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) talk about the fact that soils globally are losing their nutrients.
This implies that crop yields would naturally keep dwindling if nothing is done about the situation and what must be done obviously is the application of fertilizers.
In time past in Ghana, when lands were in abundance and shifting cultivation was the norm, the soils got back the necessary nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus on their own.
That was made possible when farmlands were left to lie fallow for a number years before they were cultivated again.
That is not to say that fertilizers were not used at all; organic fertilizers were applied because even ancient farmers had the knowledge that fertilizers contained substances that help crops to increase their yields.
Today,shifting cultivation cannot easily be practised as before because farmlands are not in abundance as before.
In the circumstances, chemical fertilizers have come to occupy a larger space in crop cultivation because there is pressure on the land as it has to be continuously cultivated.
Besides, as farmlands are dwindling but the demand for food keeps rising, there is the need to apply fertilizer to increase crop yields.
Thus, if the country wishes to ensure food security, then besides all that the government is doing to improve food production, it should prioritise availability of fertilizer all-year round and at affordable price.
It is worrying to learn that due to the high price of fertilizer in the country and its occasional shortage, farmers adjust their cropping practices in response to the situations.
In 2021, for instance, some farmers cultivated crops that required less fertilizer, while others reduced the acreage of their farms due to shortages.
However, in 2022, the market was glutted with fertilizer but the average farmer could not afford the price.
Fortunately, Yara Ghana Limited, an organisation that supports farmers to ensure their farms are profitable, efficient and sustainable, came in to intervene.
It introduced an aid initiative dubbed GROW-Ghana under which an extra bag of fertilizer was donated to a farmer, particularly a smallholder farmer, for every two bags of 50kg of fertilizer he or she purchased.
All we are saying is that there has come a time when the need for fertilizer in the country has grown and will continue to grow.
We know the government is doing all it can to ensure availability and affordability.
For instance, we know that smuggling of fertilizer into neighbouring countries is being seriously checked and we hope nothing would be left to chance.
We hope importers would be given good deals to encourage them to bring in more, while traders are checked to avoid over-pricing of the product.
Like all other developing countries, Ghana’s population is fast growing, which implies higher demand for food.
Meanwhile, farmlands are dwindling due to expansion of communities and acquisition of lands by estate developers and others creating land banks.
In the face of all the challenges,one sure way to increase food production is the use of fertilizer.
Therefore, it should always be made available and at affordable price to help farmers’ efforts become profitable.