Gov’t Introduces Subsidies On Fertilizers

GOVERNMENT HAS announced that cocoa fertilizers would now be offered to farmers nationwide on subsidised basis.

A recent release issued by the Public Affairs Department of Cocobod announced the official scrapping of the free cocoa fertilizer distribution scheme introduced by the John Mahama administration.

“Under a new policy directive by Management of COCOBOD to enhance farmers’ access to cocoa fertilizers to improve yield of cocoa farms and their incomes, a bag of the granular fertilizer is now being offered to cocoa farmers at GH¢80.00, and a litre of the liquid fertilizer is GH¢20.00, representing subsidy of 53.4 percent and 81.03 percent respectively,” according to the release.

Currently, the average purchase price per bag of granular fertilizer is GH¢171.75 and a litre of Liquid fertilizer is GH¢105.00.

The release dated May 15, 2017 indicated that the new prices shall take immediate effect.

Cocobod in the release, urged “Cocoa farmers are hereby being advised to insist on buying the fertilizers at the subsidized price from Cocoa Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs), Cocoa Inputs Companies, Offices of Cocoa Farmers’ Associations and Private Inputs Distributors across the country.”

The subsidies become the first major reversal of the former administration’s policies.

Fertilizer Politics’

The President Akufo-Addo-led NPP administration had in the run-up to the 2016 general elections, promised to subsidize cocoa fertilizers.

But in response, John Mahama, who was the President then told the NPP, “you can’t subsidize what is given free.”

His administration in 2014 freely distributed over 1.6 million bags of inorganic fertilizers, 220, 000 bags of organic fertilizers and 1.7 million litres of foliar fertilizers.

Ex-President Mahama in the heat of the 2016 election, stepped up the free distribution, with his administration announcing the sharing of some 2.5 million bags of granular fertilizer and 1.4 million litres of liquid or foliar fertilizer.

Target Missed

Despite the free distributions, cocoa production declined.

In the 2015/2016 cocoa season, government reportedly missed its 850,000 metric tonnes target producing 690,000 metric tonnes.  It therefore missed its target by 160,000 metric tonnes.

Cocoa production in Ghana has since 2011, been reducing due to several reasons ranging from bad weather, swollen shoot disease, poor management and smuggling to neighbouring countries, among others.

The NPP administration has made a strong pledge to reverse the fortunes of the cocoa industry over the next four years.

BY Melvin Tarlue