With food security leading most global discussions and more importantly in Africa, the need for agribusiness experts to discuss and find innovative ways to make the right fertilizer accessible to farmers is essential now more than ever.
It is for this reason that over 250 participants and experts from different countries convened in Accra, Ghana this week to discuss how farmers can obtain the right fertilizer, at the right time and for the right price.
The three-day conference was organized by Commodities Research Unit (CRU), and the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP).
Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, the Board Chairman of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) in his keynote address said, “the farmer is the most disadvantaged in the value chain and the availability of effective and affordable fertilizers is one of the key step towards the realization of reaping maximum benefit from his/her efforts.
“The conference is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to existing friendships and partnerships and to forge an even greater sense of co-operation in the agriculture and cocoa value chain in Ghana and in the sub-region,” he said.
Owusu-Agyemang added that although the blanket fertilizer formulas lead to significant yield increase, especially in the second and third years of application, they are not supportive of sustainable cocoa production because they fail to account for the inherent characteristics of the various soil groups and “agroecozones” of the cocoa landscapes.
He pointed out that to preserve the environment and to optimize returns from fertilizer application; COCOBOD is taking steps to ensure that fertilizer formulation for cocoa in Ghana is made site-specific, and to build up capacity of farmers.
One significant factor which has limited fertilizer application rates in the region has been inadequate supply and access to fertilizers,” Peter Heffernan, Head of Fertilizers and Chemicals at Commodities Research Unit (CRU).
He further adds that, “there are hopeful signs that some of these challenges are being addressed. The most obvious sign has been through investment in local fertilizer production capacity”.
Sessions at the conference included discussions of how ICT solutions can be applied to both the fertilizer supply chain and West African agribusiness development, financing tools to enable fertilizer trade and investment in the agribusiness and developing networks of warehouses, blenders, baggers and distributers.
The African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) is an independent non-profit organization founded by a partnership of African development Organizations to provide sustainable development projects and policies focused on business solution in fertilizer and agribusiness for agriculture productivity.
Article by: Pamela Ofori-Boateng
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