A day’s seminar aimed at increasing fertilizer usage effectively in the Agriculture sector in Africa has been held in Accra.
The seminar brought together researchers, extension staff, input dealers, small holder farmers, policy makers, stakeholders, representatives from Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Kenya as well as Mali to also address issues of nutrients and its supply to farmers.
Dubbed, “Optimizing Fertilizer Recommendation in Africa”, it was organized by the Directorate of Crop Services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and supported by the Optimizing Fertilizer Recommendation in Africa (OFRA) project group and Commonwealth Agriculture Bureau International (CABI).
Addressing participants at the seminar, Mr Osei Akoto, Deputy Director, Directorate of Crop Services MoFA, said the challenge of agriculture continues to be high due to the absence of better approaches in solving it.
He said though it had taken a while on how to address it, after three years of developing OFRA tool which is an extensive approach based on other available research conducted by Soil Research Institute, CABI and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), would help address some of the challenges at the sector.
Mr Akoto said the OFRA Tool would be useful to agriculture groups especially farmers in Africa in addressing the challenges that had existed over the years.
Dr Francis Tetteh, Representative of the Soil Research Institute, said crop productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa was low due to soil degradation and erosion.
He said over the years in Ghana, fertilizer recommendation had been formulated but had not yielded any better results hence the collaboration with AGRA and CABI in spearheading it across Sub-Saharan African countries with Ghana not being an exception.
Dr Tetteh said going forward; there would be workshops and training sessions for farmers, input dealers, and extension staff where the OFRA Tool would be used to help sustain the agriculture sector in the country.
“We are also going to have demonstrations, where we will select some farmers using the tools to educate them,” he said.
Professor Charles Wortmann, Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska, presenting the research findings to stakeholders, said the usage of fertilizer by farmers in their work would help maximize profit.
He said there would be improvement in soil fertility, the environment would be protected and returns would be maximized per small investments.
Prof Wortmann said the response function of maize in the country was very strong based on the research findings.
“Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana represents much of Africa’s production,” he said.
He, however, noted that many of the farmers had no money to apply fertilizer to their crops to maximize returns.
He called for continued stakeholder’s engagement on the OFRA Tool, inclusion of OFRA in the educational curricula of the country, policies promoting OFRA and fertilizer choices and the creation of farmers demand for more profitable optimizer approaches.
“Am hoping farmers will be able to achieve the financial ability to make choices,” Prof Wortmann said.