A group of Agri-experts has revealed that the fertilizer shock could be a turnaround for Ghana’s agriculture.
Since the Russia-Ukraine war began, fertilizer shipments out of Russia have been severely disrupted, with some domestic producers intentionally holding back supply in response to Western sanctions and many major shipping lines unwilling to touch the product if they could even get it. This has led to fertilizer shortages in Ghana since Ghana is a heavy importer of it.
However, a group of Agri-experts has made a shocking revelation that the disruption in fertilizer supply could be a turnaround for Ghana’s agriculture.
‘Rethinking organic fertilizer’ is how Mr. Twum Barimah, Co-Founder of Greenworld Flourishers Limited, frames the current situation of Ghana’s agriculture. In many countries, growers have already been experimenting with ways to use organic materials to boost crop production, he noted.
More efficient use of inorganic fertilizers can equally yield big benefits for the planet. Patented in the early 1900s, the Haber-Bosch method used to convert hydrogen and nitrogen into ammonia rates as one of the most important discoveries in history. It’s estimated that without nitrogen fertilizer, the planet would only be able to support approximately half our present-day population of 7.9 billion. But there are snags. The production of synthetic ammonia emits more carbon dioxide than any other chemical-making process.
Ghana’s river bodies stand at greater risk
The damage doesn’t stop there. Microbes present in the soil break down fertilizer, releasing nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, which pound for pound has 300 times the planet-warming impact of CO₂. Synthetic nitrogen is also a threat to biodiversity. Much of what’s used on crops gets washed away by rains or floods and finds its way into rivers, lakes, and oceans, where it unleashes algal blooms that create oxygen-depleted dead zones that can’t sustain life.
From the assertion above, all of Ghana’s river bodies stand at greater risk, Mr. Twum Barimah stressed.
Mr. Twum Barimah explained further that in as much as the negative impact of fertilizer remains in the soil, pesticides usage is far worse because its impact is seen in the final consumer. How was Ghana surviving in the ’70s? Mr. Twum Barimah quizzed.
The fertilizer and input shock alike should inform stakeholders to rethink Ghana’s agriculture, Mr Twum Barimah cautioned. Fertilizer usage in the 70s wasn’t like it is now but Ghana produced enough and never imported as it does now. Ghana can boost food production with less fertilizer, he said.
Mr. Prince Addey, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of World Vision Ghana, also contributing to the conversation said a lot of Ghanaian farmers lack knowledge when it comes to using techniques such as rigorous soil testing and so-called precision agriculture, with which every farmer can figure out just how much nutrients their land needs in a given growing season-and apply not a kilogram more. “A lot of Ghana’s arable lands either have too much fertilizer in them or has none at all, there should be a balance,” he noted.
The Food and Agriculture Organization warned in a report last month that food and feed prices could climb by as much as 22% in the 2022-23 marketing season as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, increasing the risk of malnutrition and even famine.
Since Ghana expend significant sums on farm subsidies, government policy could be used to produce changes in the sector. The cut in fertilizer subsidy in Ghana is one way to make the sector rethink organic agriculture and promote the use of environmental friendly and human friendly inputs to boost production.
Mr. Addey expressed worry that the future of Ghana’s agriculture would be doomed if Ghana continues to depend on other countries for inputs, adding that the ministry of food and agriculture should take advantage of the current surge in fertilizer and input prices and turn it around for the country’s advantage.