The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is set to roll out a credit system for agricultural inputs to enable farmers to boost food production and stabilise food prices.
The Input Credit System initiative, expected to begin next month, is currently before Cabinet for approval to make way for its implementation.
The new credit system will see a shift from the current subsidy programme under which farmers received support for only 15 per cent of their production cost.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Byran Acheampong, disclosed the initiative in Tema last Friday at the launch of the Sustain Africa Initiative (SAI).
The SAI is a crisis response and resilience mechanism to improve availability, affordability and effective and sustainable use of fertilisers in Africa.
It was founded by Rabobank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), International Fertiliser Association (IFA) and the African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP).
“Prices of inputs and machinery contribute about 85 per cent of the cost of production for a farmer.
The previous subsidy programme we had was taking care of only 15 per cent of that cost of production,” the minister stated.
“This year, from June, government is going to roll out an aggressive programme that is going to ensure our food security and food availability for the next five years.
The plan is going to move away from the current subsidy programme that we have to an input credit system if cabinet approves of it,” Dr Acheampong stated.
Dr Acheampong said under the credit system, farmers would get their inputs on credit and pay after the planting season.
He said the new system would also help to reduce the production cost borne by farmers by about 85 per cent, with about 3.5 million farmers in the country ultimately expected to benefit from the programme.
Dr Acheampong, who is also the Member of Parliament for Abetifi in the Eastern Region, said that the ministry had identified 10 crops and poultry for the country’s food security strategy, and each of them had its strategy, targets and plan under the programme.
“With the new programme, one of the partners of the Sustain Africa Initiative will provide fertilisers and seeds to farmers and get paid after the planting season.
The crops will be traded at the Ghana Commodity Exchange and delays in payments will be a thing of the past,” he said.
Providing some projections, the minister indicated that prices of inputs and fertilisers such as Ammonia and NPK (23:10:5) would record significant decreases of about 30 to 50 per cent once the programme was in operation, and that would help farmers save money and increase production.
The Food and Agriculture Minister appealed to all fertiliser producers, suppliers and partners in the country to reduce the prices of their fertilisers to help boost production.
“We know the dollar is coming down, the production sources are stable, let us bring the prices of fertilisers down so that farmers can benefit and prices will be cheap and stable for our food security, food resilience and food availability,” he said.
Dr Acheampong said the government was committed to ensuring that it delivered optimum results in the agricultural sector and was, therefore, targeting all farmers, although the programme would be rolled out from large-scale farmers down to multi crop mixed farmers.
“In the end, we want farmers and farming to be organised so that they can have the desired relevance in the food security inventory,” the said.