Right fertiliser use will help achieve cocoa target
The General Manager of Agricultural Manufacturing Group (AMG), Mr. Henry Otoo-Mensah, is optimistic that the country’s anticipated cocoa harvest target of one million metric tonnes for the next crop year is achievable if farmers adopt and use the right fertiliser.
He noted that the introduction of fertiliser products – particularly such ones offered by AMG including ‘Cocoa Nti’ fertiliser – will help to realise the expectation of increased yields from the current three bags per acre to over 20 bags/acre in the next three years.
As part of efforts to boost cocoa yields in the country, government through its flagship ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) initiative being implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, supplies subsidised fertilisers among others to cocoa farmers in the country.
The Agriculture Manufacturing Group Limited, a Ghanaian agri-based business that is a partner organisation in the PFJ initiative, has been contracted to supply over 45,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser, both urea and NPK alone, to farmers across the country.
So far, AMG has supplied over 60,000 bags of urea fertilisers, both 25 kilogrammes and 50 kilogrammes. It is also on course to commence distribution of NPK across the country, according to Mr. Otoo-Mensah.
Speaking in an interview with B&FT at the backdrop of activities to commemorate the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, he disclosed that as part of the PFJ programme the company is scheduled to distribute 5,000 bags of ‘Cocoa Nti’ fertilisers and urea to cocoa farmers in the Ashanti Region.
He noted that with this kind of strategy in place, the attainment one million metric tonnes of cocoa is not be far-fetched.
In a bid to ensure that it succeeds in addressing the incessant smuggling of subsidized fertilisers, government has adopted some new modalities for fertiliser supply.
For instance, fertilisers meant for distribution to farmers in the three regions of the north will be in 25 kilogrammes bags, as part of the newly-adopted modalities.
The new modalities for fertiliser distribution to farmers under the flagship Planting for Food and Jobs programme (PFJ), this year, will also involve the use of special identification logos, NABCO officers and technology to track fertilisers distributed.
All seedlings meant for distribution to farmers under the programme will also have the PFJ logo and the other unique identities.
This is expected to strengthen the involvement of both regional and local authorities, which will collaborate with local agriculture directors for the distribution exercise.
The NABCO officers are expected to work with retailers to monitor and capture data, while other back-up measures have been put in place to also manually capture data of farmers under the programme.
These measures, which are to replace the coupon system that hitherto existed, will hopefully address the challenges which have been encountered with distributing fertilisers under the PFJ programme.
Thus, Mr. Otoo-Mensah has already collaborated with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to sensitise AMG distributors and other stakeholders across the country.
He said with the full implementation of this new approach smuggling fertilisers will be curtailed, while indicating that the company will regularly sensitise its distributors on such activities.