Ghana lost US$4. 2 billion, representing five per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from 2006 to 2015, due to land degradation.
The Senior Programmes Officer at AGRA Ghana, Dr Asseta Diallo, who disclosed this in a presentation at a learning event organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – AGRA Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) in Accra on March 21, 2023, explained that the poor fertility nature of arable lands in the country due to human activities such as mining required the application of both organic and inorganic fertilizers in order to increase production.
She expressed the concern that many agricultural lands had been depleted or severely degraded such that they had become less fertile to produce any significant produce when cultivated.
Dr Diallo said due to the poor fertility nature of arable lands in Ghana, farmers had to use a lot of fertilizers, which also increased their cost of production.
“Huge volume of organic fertilizer such as two tonnes of high-quality legume biomass will provide less than 50 kilogrammes of nitrogen which would suffice to produce 1 tonne of maize grain,” she explained.
The USAID-PIATA partnership seeks to build systems that catalyze the adoption of quality inputs, including improved seeds and fertilizers; increase farmer access to soil fertility enhancement technologies and practices and improve the enabling environment for private sector participation in the input delivery system.
Over the last five years, AGRA, with funding from USAID, has increased its efforts towards contributing to an inclusive agriculture transformation under the PIATA initiative.
Through the programme, AGRA is focused on increasing farmers’ access to and adoption of quality seeds and fertilizer, improving the enabling environment for private sector participation and increased access to improved inputs, and also strengthening smallholder farmer resilience.
Moving forward, the USAID-AGRA PIATA partnership aims at catalyzing efforts to open up new opportunities and leverage resources and partnerships for an inclusive and sustainable input system for food security and resilience in Ghana.
The PIATA learning event highlighted the achievements, key learnings, and outlook for future programming of agriculture in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Yaw Frimpong Addo, expressed the hope that the PIATA programme would help the country to address some of the challenges in the agricultural sector, particularly in the area of productivity.
He said the government’s attempt to make agriculture the driver of the country’s economy was being challenged by a number of factors, including lack of access to quality agro-inputs, low adoption of agronomic practices resulting from lack of access to extension officers and low farm productivity.
He, however, indicated that the government was working to address many of the challenges confronting the agricultural sector by ensuring that farmers had access to improved seeds, extension officers and quality agro-inputs.
“It is significant to say that the food crops model under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) chalked a lot of success starting with 200,000 beneficiaries who accessed fertilizers and improved seeds in 2017 and the numbers increasing to 1.7 million in 2021,” Mr Addo noted.
For her part, the Programme Officer for AGRA, Ms. Regina Richardson, said AGRA as an organisation had been assisting 130,000 smallholder farmers to access 8000 metric tonnes of certified seeds.
Additionally, she noted, AGRA had worked with many women farmers across the country to enable them produce their own vegetables, thereby supporting the country’s efforts to achieve food security.
“We have also worked with households, particularly women to support them with home gardening facilities to enable them to produce household vegetable gardening to make additional income and improve nutrition at the household level,” Madam Richardson said.