To help improve soil fertility and increase food production in the country, Professor Godfred Kwabena Ofosu-Budu of the Department of Crop Sciences of the University of Ghana, has stressed the need for the country to adopt and scale up farmer-driven organic resource management practices.
He said with the adoption of farmer-driven organic resource management, farmers across the country could turn their agricultural waste materials such as empty fruit bunch, cocoa pod and husk, rice husk and cow dung into organic fertilizers which would help them to increase the fertility of their soil at a cheaper cost in a sustainable way.
He explained that low soil fertility is a major constraint to food production, adding that the use of inorganic fertilizer to supply nutrients to plants is constrained by high prices and distribution challenges.
Prof. Ofosu-Budu, who is also the Ghana’s National Coordinator of Organic Resource Management for Soil Project (ORM4Soil), made the remarks when he presented the country report of the ORM4Soil end of project country meeting at the Centre for African Wetlands auditorium at the University of Ghana on Thursday, June 10, 2021.
The ORM4Soil project, which is a farmer-driven organic resource management to build Soil fertility and improve food security is aimed at improving soil fertility using locally available organic resources.
The project, which is funded by the Swiss Government, is an innovative participatory and interdisciplinary approach that is aimed at improving soil fertility and is implemented in four African countries, namely Ghana, Mali, Kenya and Zambia.
The ORM4Soil project started in Ghana in 2016 with the establishment of two project sites— Kade (forest region) and Sege (Coastal Savanna region).
The ORM4Soil project had three major components— agronomy, socioeconomics and communication. After four years of research, the researchers and other post-graduate students who took part in the study used the end of ORM4Soil Project meeting to share their findings and recommendations.
The event brought together industry players in the agricultural sector, people in academia, scientists, students, and the media to deliberate on the findings of the study.
Prof. Ofosu-Budu explained that organic resource “has the advantage of building up soil organic carbon and improving soil physical properties, conditions necessary for ensuring sustainable crop production.”
For him, high cost and poor marketing make inorganic fertilizers not attractive to farmers, pointing out that the use of locally available organic resources “is proving attractive to farmers.”
He pointed out that the use of locally available organic resources “have the potential to increase crop yield” in the country.
“Agricultural activities generate plant and animal wastes that contain plant nutrients which can be recycled to compost/biochar to improve soil fertility,” Prof. Ofosu-Budu noted.
He was of the view that agricultural waste materials abound in the country, expressing the concern that the low adoption of organic resources by farmers was due to lack of processing plants and low distribution of organic resources in the country.
Touching on some key findings of the study, Prof. Ofosu-Budu, said data analyzed, using profit margin, net farm income and return on investment showed that it was more profitable to use locally available organic resources than other soil fertility amendments techniques.
He said the study indicated that “socioeconomic variables, farm characteristics and institutional factors positively influence farmers’ decision to use locally available organic resources and its profitability.”
Other speakers at the event included Prof. Margaret Amoakohene, Andreas Fleissbach, Mrs Rebecca Ofori-Ba, and Ebenezer Amoquandoh, both Research Assistants for the ORM4Soil project.