SEND-Ghana calls for more Fertilizer Subsidy Program funding

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Ghana's Fertilizer Subsidy Program (FSP) is in need of a financial boost, and representatives from SEND-Ghana -- a nongovernmental arm of the Social Enterprise Development (SEND) Foundation of West Africa -- are encouraging government officials to seek out funding sources from the private sector to keep the program going.

FSP is an initiative aimed at helping the owners of small farms increase their food production and incomes. A recent study of the program by SEND-Ghana revealed that government funding alone would not be enough to sustain FSP.

FSP has been solely funded by the government since its launch in 2008. The program's operations were suspended in 2014 due to lack of funding; it resumed in 2015 after farmers and other stakeholders in Ghana's farming industry expressed their need for services.

The study, "Making Fertilizer Subsidy Helpful to Smallholder Farmers," used data from the 2011-15 farming seasons in seven districts in Ghana's east, west and northern regions.

The study was led by SEND-Ghana Project Officer John Nkaw.

Nkaw's report stressed the importance of getting fertilizer to farmers at the right time of the season -- the beginning.

Several factors have impacted the use of fertilizers on Ghana's farms.

"The changes in the prices have really affected us," a western-region farmer told Nkaw. "It has resulted in the reduction in the number of acres we used to farm because you may afford to cultivate on a large piece of land, but at the end of the day, if you are unable to apply the fertilizer and the right quantity, you end up getting nothing."

Other suggestions in the report included establishing fertilizer sources closer to farmers, funding for supply-chain monitoring and supervision and establishing fertilizer-education programs for Ghana's farmers.

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