An Agricultural Economist, Rural Development, and food security Expert, Mr. Zuobog Philip Neri, has stated that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) implementation guidelines for 2022 will push the prices of inputs higher.
According to him, restricting the input supply to a limited number of outlets will pave way for some middlemen to hoard these inputs and later sell them to farmers at a higher price. He further opined that the transportation cost of farmers living in remote areas is also likely to increase due to the long distance they have to travel to access inputs.
“The guidelines as indicated may push the real prices of the inputs higher as [a] result of transportation cost for farmers located far from the indicated 10 or more selected approved dealers in the Districts where the movement of the fertilizer is restricted. Generally, the guidelines as outlined may not be that efficient as they completely left out the farmers and the traditional community-level institutions. It also makes the input supply chain unnecessarily long and vulnerable to political abuse.
“Particularly that some political leaders were cited to be neck-deep in the smuggling of the fertilizer to Burkina Faso which seems to have informed the decision to restrict the movement of the fertilizer in some selected Districts”.Zuobog Philip Neri
Mr. Zuobog further added that the loopholes in the modalities will further aggravate the food security and living standards of rural farmers.
“The overall foreseen effect of these inefficiencies is that there will be inadequate access by rural farmers to the input resulting in poor yield and ultimately food insecurity-worsened-poverty. In addition, the measures will not achieve the desired target to eliminate smuggling as the local level institutions and farmers who are pivotal and partners in fighting smuggling at the local level are completely not considered”.Zuobog Philip Neri
In reacting to the implementation modalities, he suggested that MoFA should be strengthened to equip the already existing farmer groups so that fertilizers will be sent directly to these farmer cooperatives instead of sending them to outlets.
The 2022 implementation modalities for the PFJ seek to ensure efficiency and value for money in the distribution of seed and fertilizer. These guidelines will be rolled out with the help of some NABCO officials, says MoFA. The implementation guidelines cover two main inputs: fertilizer and seeds.
Implementation guidelines for fertilizer
Under the implementation guidelines for fertilizer, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture disclosed that it will continue to promote crop-specific fertilizer recommendations in all agro-ecologies across the country. Also, all inorganic fertilizers will be bagged in sacks with PFJ labels/logos. The ministry emphasized that liquid and different forms of organic fertilizers should be packaged with the PFJ logo and inscriptions.
“All inorganic fertilizers to be sold under the 2022 PFJ will be bagged in 25kg bags in all 16 regions of the country. Copies of waybills on all fertilizer consignments must be submitted to Regional Ministers or their representatives and Regional Directors of Agriculture for endorsement before offloading or sending to the districts/communities.
“At the districts and community levels, copies of waybills of all fertilizer consignments must be submitted to MMDCEs or their representatives and Municipal, Metropolitan, and District Directors of Agriculture for endorsement”.MoFA
Additionally, the Ministry noted that in situations where the destination of the consignment is not a regional capital, the waybill of the consignment must be endorsed by the MMDCEs and copies sent to the Regional Minister by the company for endorsement. Fertilizer distributors and retailers will liaise with NABCO officials under the supervision of MMDCEs to distribute fertilizers to the sale outlets/retail points, says MoFA.
Implementation guidelines for the seed
One of the core mandates of the PFJ initiative is to provide viable seeds at a subsidized price for farmers. The Ministry stated that going forward all seeds will be bagged in sacks with PFJ labels/logos. Seed growers/suppliers of improved seeds are also expected to liaise with PPRSD for sacks.
According to the guidelines, copies of waybills on all seed consignments must be submitted to Regional Ministers or their representatives and Regional Directors of Agriculture for endorsement before offloading or sending to the districts/communities. Also, at the district and community levels, copies of waybills of all seed consignments are to be submitted to MMDCEs or their representative and Municipal, Metropolitan, and District Directors of Agriculture for endorsement.
“Seed distributors and retailers will liaise with NABCO officials under the supervision of MMDCEs to distribute seeds to the sale outlets/retail points. Daily records sheets will be used to record daily sales to farmers. NABCO officials will be placed at all retail outlets in all regions to supervise and record the quantities of seeds being sold to farmers through the use of daily records sheets. The sales records of the retailers will be reconciled with the NABCO officials”.MoFA
To ensure good data collation, MoFA instructed that the date, name, quantities, and types of seeds bought by beneficiary farmers should be recorded on the daily records sheets.
The PFJ initiative
In 2017, the government launched the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative which at its core, is a seed and fertilizer subsidy program, but with ambitions of boosting smallholder agricultural production and creating jobs along agricultural value chains through other complementary interventions.
PFJ is one of sixteen flagship programs of the government of Ghana. Since 2017, several new PFJ program modules have been introduced to create a portfolio of interventions under an expanded PFJ umbrella. These include a tree crop module called Planting for Export and Rural Development, and a livestock module called Rearing for Food and Jobs.
Programs that predate the PFJ, including the Agricultural Mechanization Services program and a horticulture capacity development program (Greenhouse Villages program) were also incorporated under the PFJ umbrella. The PFJ program as originally conceived is now referred to as the Food Crops Module. 2022 PFJ 2022 PFJ