Anthony Morrison, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Agribusiness, commenting on the recent nationwide shortage of fertilizer has stated that the Government’s flagship program – Planting for Food and Job (PFJ) is not sustainable. He however tasked the government to take a second look at its fertilizer subsidy programme as it is not serving its intended purpose.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, the government is owing both importers and suppliers of fertilizer. So, if they are calling for a halt in distribution of the subsidized fertilizer, then it means there is a problem and that the planting for food and job is not sustainable.
“We all know that the suppliers and importers of fertilizer are owed by the government. The chamber is proposing that, possibly, we have come to the end of the road where PFJ is not sustainable. PFJ as a project lacks the needed strategies and there must be a rethink.”
Mr Morrison further noted that the only way forward is for government to deregulate the industry so that they can be able to import their own fertilizers and not necessarily rely on third party importers.
“We are asking that, can the industry further be deregulated so that if I have a farm and I have five thousand acres, I should be able to import my own fertilizer and not depend on any fertilizer importing company. Maybe farmer-based organisations whose total numbers are more than five thousand can be given permits to import fertilizers for only their farms.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Agribusiness, called for a review of the programme to help address the recent shortage of fertilizer nationwide.
“Maybe we have reached a point where there must be complete deregulation of the fertilizer downstream so that people begin to bring in what they can consume. Probably, I’m not saying the current fertilizers are not quality, but maybe people can now decide to bring in much higher quality fertilizers that will eventually increase yields on their farms using the quality of produce on their farms. That is where we should be getting as a country.”
According to the Chamber, although the subsidy programme, which is aimed at boosting the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, is laudable, it has not been efficient.
Already, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto is reported to have expressed concern about the future of the flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme due to a large debt owed partners of the programme including input suppliers.
According to the minister, he said importers of fertilizer under the Planting for Food and Job were under siege by their financiers because out of GH¢940 million owed dealers in fertilizer and other subsidies since the beginning of last year, the government has been able to pay only GH¢250 million.
This comes after suppliers of fertilizer for the Planting for Food and Jobs programme halted distribution of the product in April 2021 due to debt owed them by the government.