About 1.7 million farmers in the five regions in northern Ghana are to benefit from the government’s fertilizer subsidy programme under the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative this year.
The beneficiaries, who are mostly smallholder farmers have already been registered under the E-agric project, an initiative by Broadspectrum, a company contracted by the government to develop a digital platform, register Ghanaian farmers and deploy the system to redeem fertilizers under the subsidy programme of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.
The Programmes Manager for the E-agric project, Castro Antwi Danso, speaking after distributing the first consignment of subsidized fertilizer to farmers using the e-agric digital platform, explained that farmers are required to be verified biometrically before they can redeem their inputs.
“Unlike previous systems, all the 1.7 million farmers we have registered will be verified biometrically before they can redeem their inputs. No farmer can get the subsidized fertilizer without being registered and going through our verification platform”.
He said, “the E-agric initiative is to help the government in real-time to know which farmer has picked what input from which shop and also in real-time be able to tell what their liability is to the suppliers and government as well”.
The Programmes Manager further explained that the system will also help improve the subsidy process, as farmers will no longer form long winding queues or be required to provide coupons before accessing subsidized fertilizer and other inputs under the PFJ programme.
“All they need to do is to register onto the programme and submit their national IDs for redemption”.
He further explained that bureaucracies within the input value chain are all addressed by the E-agric project.
While urging farmers to take advantage of the new subsidy system, Mr. Castro admonished farmers who are yet to register under the e-agric programme to go to the nearest accredited input dealers with their national identity cards to register and benefit from the programme.
The first smallholder farmer to benefit from the first 2000 PFJ subsidized fertilizer under the e-agric project, Ben Alipio thanked Broadspectrum for the intervention and called on his colleague farmers to take advantage of the e-agric initiative.
“I was there when they came. Within four minutes, I had my fertilizer. I didn’t t believe it, but it came to pass”.
He however appealed to the government to consider increasing the subsidy to enable farmers to get their required number of fertilizer bags for their farms.
A 25Kg of compound fertilizers under the subsidy programme is going for GH¢160.
Some farmers who spoke to Citi News complained that the GH¢320 per 50kg bag is on the high side and appealed for the government to intervene.