Sometime in late 2018, a study was conducted by the Northern Ghana Governance Activity (NGGA) to assess the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme (PFJ) after one year of it take off.
The findings of the study presented at a regional dialogue in Tamale found, amongst other challenges, that there was scarcity and late distribution of seeds and fertilizers, these two being important parts of the pillars of the PFJ programme. Other challenges identified included “cumbersome registration process, long-distance to registration and distribution points, in some districts…poor quality of seeds and fertilizers and political interference.”
The study funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the U.S Government’s Feed the Future Initiative, recommended, amongst other measures, that government should collaborate with the private sector (in a public-private sector partnership) to enhance the availability, supply and distribution of seeds and fertilizers.
Again, in a more recent study conducted by a group of Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) students (Global Perspectives project), it was, once more, found out that the biggest challenges faced, by farmers and farming, generally in Ghana, are – diseases/pests, weather conditions, irrigation, and motor systems prices, farming expenditure, lack of government support, machinery, tools, and more.
Coming to the end of their project, the students came to the conclusion that the solutions to achieving a turn-around and sustainable agricultural development should not just be the responsibility of the government. There should be a private sector partnership to make the laudable programme feasible.
Again, IMANI, an A policy an Accra based think tank, in a similar study on the PFJ programme, reported that “there has not been enough private sector involvement, participation and investment in the implementation process.” PFJ like other previous agriculture initiatives is currently a government-led initiative with a very slim space for private sector participation, the report stated. “This current arrangement threatens the sustainability and efficient implementation of the initiative. The basis of our assertion is that government’s resources alone can never be sufficient, if not practically impossible to transform the agriculture sector…
The report cited a paper published by the International Finance Corporation in 2012 that indicates that “cases, where the private sector has been given the enabling environment to partner effectively with government in agriculture, capital, technology, and management expertise that are needed to improve the performance of high-priority intervention of government, becomes sustainable.”
From the conclusions of the foregoing studies, it comes out clear that the seeming flagship programme of this government has, in its two years inception, had challenges ranging from the need for adequate infrastructure availability to private sector contribution/partnership. However, the good news is that owing to the merit of the programme, and the proactive invitation of the government, the private sector has rallied to drive this government’s dream to manifest reality.
Against the background of this appreciation, the role and proactive performance of the private sector actors like Yara Ghana begins to stand out as a welcome targeted futuristic and purpose-driven intervention that is surely leaving an indelible effect on the development of agriculture in Ghana. I make bold to say that in the stock-taking review of the contributors to the realisation of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, Yara Ghana would stand out as one of the major key players, especially in the area of providing the right kind of fertilizers to boost farmers’ output.
The company’s passion for agriculture shines forth in its leading innovative sector support products it produces, the fertilizer being chief among its products and services, especially for their Ghana operations.
Though the parent company, Yara ASA, has been in existence for over 114 years with operations in over 150 countries worldwide, Yara Ghana started operations in Ghana since 2007. According to records, Yara Ghana has offices in Accra (Head Office), Tema (warehouse, blending and production facility) and Tamale. The company also has representatives in all the 16 regions of Ghana.
In a recent communication with yours truly, Yara Ghana, as a committed sponsor of our Pre-harvest Annual Conference and Exhibition event, through its cordial Country Manager, Mr Danquah Addo-Yobo, made their commitment to the growth of the agricultural sector known in clear terms.
“Yara as a leading player in the fertilizer industry believes in building partnerships and collaborations that will help strengthen the entire agricultural value chain,” he declared and went further to illustrate. “This is demonstrated in our collaboration with various industry players such as the MOFA, AFAP (African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership) the USAID/ADVANCE, Research institutions and Agrihouse in areas such as training, field demos and agricultural-related events.
“Yara Ghana provides Crop Nutrition Solutions across different crop areas as well as tools and knowledge to help farmers optimize their productivity and profits,” he intimated.
At each opportunity, Yara Ghana makes it clear that it aims to support farmers to optimize their yields and profitability through the consistent provision of their crop nutrition solutions. Little wonder this year, the company has announced that it is going to unveil its latest improved fertilizer product at the 2019 Agrihouse’s Pre-harvest Annual Conference and Exhibition event taking place at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in Tamale, from 25th to 27th September 2019.
The new foliar fertilizer YaraVita Crop Lift Bio contains the full range of NPKs as well as several micronutrients that help boost yields and revitalize the crop during periods of stress.
“It is easy to absorb through the leaves, and (it) is tank mixable with several agrochemicals aside weedicides and herbicides thus reducing the work of the farmer,” explains Mr. Addo-Yobo.
“The Yara fertilizers and crop nutrition solutions, indeed, are able to deliver high productivity and profitability for the farmer, which is essential for agriculture value chain partnerships to be sustainable, creating opportunities and business for other partners in the entire agriculture value chain such as Input suppliers, farmers, marketers, manufacturers, traders, consumers, etc.
“From the cost-benefit analysis on the many demonstration fields that Yara has undertaken with MOFA, USAID/ADVANCE, AFAP and farmers across the country, the farmer can indeed be made more profitable through effective agronomic practices and market access.”
It may be recalled that, at the launch of the 2019 season of the Planting for Food and Jobs at the beginning of the year, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, spoke of the need for the development of what he called then a “crop-specific fertilizer” in order to improve crop yield as opposed to the era when the blanket fertilizer recommendation was the case and produced low crop output. Yara Ghana’s efforts at innovating and improving quality in its area of contribution and service are, therefore, in sync with the turn-around vision and innovative demands of the government.
This vision and commitment underscore the sustained interest Yara Ghana has had in the Pre-harvest Annual Conference and Exhibition event which it is sponsoring this year for the third year running.
“The Pre-harvest event, we believe, is one…the event that brings together actors in the value chain to network, build partnerships and help link farmers to up-takers and aggregators, and Yara believes our sponsorship of this event will help enhance and promote this objective. It is for this reason that Yara has been supporting the Pre-Harvest event over the past three years,” the Managing Director says and still goes on to speak of their expectations from the 9-year old award-winning agricultural event.
“We are hoping to see a lot of farmers and other players in the value chain attending this event. We are also expecting that a lot of networking and partnerships will be built and linkages established that will help further strengthen the agricultural value chain and enhance profitability among the various actors.
“We also expect to see an exciting exhibition that will showcase new and improved technologies in the sector that will help modernize agricultural practice in Ghana and make it attractive to the youth and profitable.
The involvement of Yara in this year’s edition of the event will see the company making a presentation derived from the theme of the event: Market Accessibility: The Structured and Sustainable Pathway.
“Participants will learn new ways to optimize yields and quality in an environmentally safe and responsible way,” he assured. At the end of the presentation, participants would be equipped sufficiently “to help shape policy by bringing out challenges in the current policy on subsidy and proffering suggestions to improve it.”
The contribution of the private sector in the government’s drive to achieve food sufficiency and security cannot be considered a misplaced one. A public-private partnership has been one of the factors critics had consistently pointed to as being one of the indices that complete the equation to achieving the much-desired turn-around in Ghana’s food production performance. Yara Ghana is recognised as one of those private sector actors proactive in making a remarkable difference in the agriculture sector.
As Mr Addo-Yobo succinctly put it: “Yara has a long-term commitment to Ghana and is keen on strengthening its operations in Ghana to be a hub to some West Africa countries. Northern Ghana would be an interesting hub for businesses to neighbouring Burkina Faso and northern parts of Togo for instance, creating jobs to transform the agriculture value chain in Northern Ghana.” Again, this perfectly aligns with the government’s vision for agriculture in Ghana.
Now in its 9th year, the Pre-harvest Annual Exhibitions and Conference have become one of the leading and highly impactful interventional events on the Ghanaian Agribusiness calendar.
It won the Agribusiness event of the Year Award in 2018.
The event promotes business partnerships among value chain actors, especially farmers, buyers, processors, transporters, input dealers, equipment dealers, financial institutions, telecom companies and policymakers.
The event also seeks to accelerate the transformation of agribusiness in Northern Ghana with the Government’s initiatives, a strong drive by agro-processors to source raw materials locally, a growing band of agribusiness entrepreneurs, and relevant valuable lessons from development partner interventions.
Again, the Pre-harvest Annual Exhibitions and Conference aims to get the Agribusiness sector to influence transformation, with the heightened focus on public-private partnerships, investment opportunities and creating an action-driven blueprint for an increasingly sustainable agricultural movement.
In 2018, the event recorded a total of 3,122 participants and 141 exhibitors, including farmers, traders, commodity brokers, input companies, machinery and equipment providers, transporters, financial institutions, ICT, Innovations, Poultry and Livestock companies, packaging and processing companies, development practitioners and government agencies, among others.