The Government of Ghana (GoG) and the Fondation Office Cherifien de Phosphate (OCP) of Moroccan have outdoored a project to transform fertilizer application procedures to boost yields and maximize returns.
It is a three-year project that will be jointly implemented by Fondation OCP and GoG through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and the Soil Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Under the agreement it has the objective to equip the national fertilizer and soil laboratories for improved fertilizer and soil quality testing and provide a Fertilizer Mobile Testing Laboratory Truck to support the work of the Ministry.
The project that is in its pilot phase will also establish an innovative Mobile Laboratory technology to support farmers with free live soil testing and analysis facilities.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the project is a historic one that would transform the agriculture sector and create thriving conditions for particularly smallholder farmers to increase farm productivity and improve livelihoods.
Another important contribution under the project, the Minister said, was the development of a two million hectare National Soil Fertility Map that would help assess the soil fertility in the country as well as soil and crop nutrient requirements.
Dr Afriyie Akoto said the soil map would also be digitized and mainstreamed into government’s processes to ensure an Integrated Soil Fertility Management System.
He said as the country moved from blanket fertilization to balanced fertilization, the project falls in line with government strategic plan for fertilizer value chain development.
“This strategy includes the development of a national soil fertility map and nutrient mapping, research and development of new fertilizer formulas, on-farm validation of fertilizer recommendations, and mass sensitization and education of farmers on the responsible and profitable use of fertilizers,” he said.
The Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Professor Victor Agyemang, said a recent study conducted by the Council revealed that land for agriculture was diminishing in quantity and deteriorating as a result of fire and deforestation.
More so, he said, over 80 per cent of agriculture soils in the country are becoming acidic and this is detrimental to crop production.
Professor Agyemang said iron pan formation was spreading at a very fast rate and that over 40 per cent of agriculture lands in the savannah agro-ecology has been affected.
The Moroccan Ambassador, Madam Imane Ouaadil, said the challenges in the agriculture sector especially the adverse effect of climate change calls for a close collaboration to ensure productivity.
She said OCP and the Ghanaian government have signed an agreement to build a fertilizer plant in Ghana by 2024.
The agreement is an essential component of OCP’s South-South or intra-African venture, in relation with the “Royal vision” to not only be a regional and continental leader in terms of agricultural output, but also as a fulfilment of the urge to be an indispensable party in the pan-African vision to reach food security and stability.