No cash for free fertilisers – Dep. Agric Minister nominee

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Government does not have the funds to distribute free fertiliser to over five million farmers nationwide, the Deputy Food and Agriculture nominee Kennedy Nyarko Osei has said.

“I don’t subscribe to the distribution of free fertiliser. What I rather prefer is that we subsidise it for farmers so that everybody can have access to it.

“Most farmers are finding it difficult to be able to buy or acquire some of this fertiliser. I would rather recommend to my minister that though we are subsiding the price upfront, we should consider giving them the material (fertiliser) to go and farm, and when they bring their produce we deduct the money from whatever produce is brought.

Government has re-introduced a long-standing policy of subsidies on fertiliser, which replaced the Mahama-led administration’s free cocoa fertiliser distribution scheme.

Appearing before the Appointments Committee of Parliament to be vetted for the Deputy Ministerial position of the Food and Agriculture Ministry, Mr. Osei explained that the country cannot afford to supply for free.

Over 1.6 million bags of inorganic fertiliser, 220,000 bags of organic fertiliser and 1.7 million litres of foliar fertiliser were distributed freely in 2014.

Despite the free distributions, cocoa production declined.  In the 2015/2016 cocoa season, government missed an 850,000 metric tonnes target, producing only 690,000 metric tonnes.

Under the recently-restored subsidy scheme, a bag of granular fertiliser is expected to be subsided by as much as 53.4 percent – the original price of GH¢171.75 reduced to GH¢80.

Source: bftonline.com