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Apply correct amount of fertilizer to achieve food security – Agronomist

GNA – Dr Joseph Nketsia Berchie, a Principal Research Scientist at the Crop Research Institute, has said Ghana would not realise food security if farmers failed to apply the correct amounts of fertilizers on their crops.

He noted that as farmers cultivated on farmlands over time it depleted the nutrients in the soil, therefore, there was the need to apply the correct amount of fertilizer to replenish the soil to enhance crop yield.

Dr Berchie said Ghanaian farmers averagely applied 50kilogrammes of fertilizer per a hectare of farmland compared to their Chinese counterparts who applied 500kilogrammes of fertilizer on the same piece of land, which results in increased crop yield.

He debunked popular perception that application of fertilizer on crops would negatively affect the health of consumers, saying if farmers should apply the correct amount of fertilizer on crops it would not have any negative effects.

Dr Berchie, who is also an Agronomist, said this at a Stakeholders Dialogue organised by Yara Ghana Limited, a fertilizer company, in Accra on Wednesday.

The meeting discussed the scientific trials and field demonstrations organised by Yara Ghana Ltd and the impact it would have on crop productivity and income of farmers.

The meeting also saw the launching of a book on Scientific Trials and Field Demonstrations undertaken by Yara Ghana Limited in 2016/2017.

The company engaged about 12,000 farmers in 250 meetings, organised 256 field demonstrations and five scientific trials.

Dr Berchie cited an instance where Yara fertilizer was applied on a hectare of farmland, which yielded 7.5 tonnes of produce compared to 2.6 tonnes of produce on the same piece of land that did not apply fertilizer.

Regarding measures his outfit was putting in place to enhance application of fertilizers among farmers, Dr Berchie said it was undertaking a programme known as Research Extension Linkage where committees had been constituted in each region to sensitise farmers on proper application of fertilizer.

It also conducted field demonstrations with the farmers to enable them to understand the benefit of fertilizer usage.

He recommended the use of organic fertilizer as an alternative means of replenishing the soil, adding that Ghana cannot ensure food security if farmers failed to apply fertilizers on their crops.

Dr Berchie said most farmers in the country did not apply fertilizer on their crops and those who applied it did not apply it on root and tuber crops thus, affecting food production.

“As a country, we cannot attain food security if we failed to apply fertilizer,” he stated, adding that; “the worrying aspect is that most farmers in Ghana don’t apply fertilizer on their crops and this is not good”.

Mr Danquah Addo-Yobo, the Managing Director of Yara Ghana Limited, said the company stood for quality, reliability and knowledge sharing with a strong commitment to supporting the growth and profitability of farmers.

He said it partnered research institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations, corporate bodies and also dealt directly with farmers in terms of research on best farming practices, trials and demonstrations to boost farmers’ productivity and profitability.

“There is a lot of global research and test on our products so the quality of our products is not in doubt,” he said.

Mr Addo-Yobo noted that the outdooring of the trials and demonstrations would help farmers decision regarding the choice of fertilizer for any particular crop, which would support the government’s flagship programme on ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ to thrive.

Mr Derrick Tuffuor-Mills, the West African Agronomist at Yara, who made a presentation on the company’s scientific trials and field demonstrations, said in terms of crop nutrition there was the need for farmers to consider three key elements.

These are the crop knowledge where the farmer was supposed to know the kind of crop to cultivate; the right fertilizer to use; and the tools and skills to apply the fertilizer.

He said the company’s research findings in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions showed that farmers who applied the Yara fertilizers on their farms received higher crop yield compared to those who used traditional control farming system.

The research was a partnership between the company and other research institutions such as the Crop Research Institute, Cocoa Research Institute, OPRI Research Company, and the University of Development Studies, Tamale.

Mr Tuffuor-Mills said the scientific trials were conducted on maize, cocoa, rice and onions, which he described as very successful.

Yara Ghana Limited was established in Ghana in 2007 to strengthen the quality and in-depth of input supply and related services along the agricultural value chain to increase the productivity of Ghanaian farmers.

It has been able to supply fertilizers to more than 240 million people across the globe.

Credit:GNA

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