Gov’t unable to roll-out 2014 fertiliser subsidy programme

Government on Tuesday said it could not roll-out the national fertiliser subsidy programme for the 2014 cropping season.

This, according to Mr Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, Minister of Food and Agriculture, was because the Government had not been able to pay the fertiliser companies a total of GHc64 million being subsidies on fertilisers they distributed in 2013.

Mr Kwetey, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ketu South Constituency in the Volta Region, was answering questions pertaining to the agriculture sector, on the floor of Parliament.

The question, an urgent one, which stood in the name of Dr Sagre Babangi, New Patiotic Party (NPP) MP for Walewale, sought to know from the minister when the distribution of subdised fertilisers would commence in the on-going cropping season.

“The fertilser companies have indicated that with this amount outstanding, they could not continue with the subsidy programme for the 2014 cropping season.

“The Government of Ghana paid up Ghc46 million of the aforementioned outstanding in the last one week,” Mr Kwetey said.

He said: “It is gratifying to note that even though the national fertiliser subsidy programme was not rolled out because of the aforementioned reason, there were targeted fertiliser subsidies for rice production in 2014 season.”

Mr Kwetey also answered a question that stood in the name of Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, NPP MP, which sought to know what practical steps and policy measures the ministry was taking to reduce the rising cost of import of basic food items.

The items include rice, tomatoes, cooking oil, poultry and meat.

The Food and Agriculture Minister said the question would be best handled by the Ministry of Trade and Industry as the ministry responsible for import-export trade.

Mr Kwetey, however, said the ministry, in its responsibility for facilitating local agricultural production for food security and import substitution, had adopted short-term and medium to long term measures to address short-falls in the production of certain food items.

On oil palm, Mr Kwetey said the ministry was transforming selected stations within the oil palm belt into oil palm technology transfer centres.

He said with support from private and donor organisations, the ministry would establish nurseries to distribute 100,000 improved oil palm planting materials per year as a way of improving small holders’ access to improved planting material.

It would also provide back-stopping and training to farmers in good agronomic practices.

Mr Kwetey announced that the ministry was in discussion with the Agence Francaise de Developpement, a French agency, to develop a total of 10,000 hectares of oil palm out-grower project in the Central and Western regions.

He said the programme would enhance the efficiency of the 1,200 small scale palm oil mills.

For tomato, he said the ministry was in the process of introducing greenhouse technology to enable farmers to increase yields and produce year- round with reduced pest and disease incidence.

Other measures are the development of irrigation facilities, collaboration with research and capacity building of farmers to enhance production.

Source : GNA