Improving Farmer Access to Quality Fertilizer for Increased Yields

A major factor limiting use of quality fertilizers for enhanced agricultural productivity is the unavailability of properly packaged and labeled fertilizers in quantities small-scale farmers can afford. Most often, fertilizers available on the market are packaged in 50 kg bags and sold at prices not usually affordable to many small-scale farmers, effectively preventing them from applying fertilizers on their farms.

Many mid-level fertilizer distributors, retailers and agro-dealers in West African markets have tried to alleviate the problem by repackaging fertilizers into smaller quantities that fit into small-scale farmers’ meager budgets. This solution, however, has caused problems and raised questions: are proper packaging and labeling standards as stipulated by regional and national laws being met by these dealers? And, essentially, are small-scale farmers getting what they pay for?

To help answer these questions, GreenShield Agrochemicals Limited, a major private agricultural input distributor along the eastern corridor of Ghana, has started packaging and labeling 1-, 5- and 25-kg bags of briquetted urea super granules (USG) in conformity with the requirements of Ghana’s Plants and Fertilizer Act, 2010 (Act 803) and the ECOWAS legal framework on fertilizer quality control.

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According to District Director of Agriculture Besa Akpalu, “With these innovative packages, small scale farmers will be able to purchase the exact amount of appropriate fertilizers they need for their crops at affordable cost.” At the same time, the initiative will help meet fertilizer quality, packaging and labeling standards.

GreenShield Agrochemicals benefitted from a training session on packaging and labeling organized by the USAID West Africa Program (USAID WAFP). The training equipped input dealers and retailers with the ability to choose appropriate packaging material for the small packaging, to know the elements necessary for labeling, to understand the issues of short weight and the acceptable margins of error – and how all these issues together affect farming. Knowing and adhering to these regulations safeguards farmers against adulteration, short weight bagging and misleading labeling. This also helps the company avoid being in contravention of the national regulations on plants and fertilizers.

A District Agricultural Officer discusses with a smallholder rice farmer his impressions about the small-size fertilizer packages

The training was part of a memorandum of understanding signed between GreenShield and two IFDC projects – the Feed the Future Ghana Agricultural Technology Transfer (ATT) project and USAID WAFP – to scale up urea deep placement (UDP) technology in the Volta Region of Ghana.

According to Kumah Ameyibor, the managing director of GreenShield Agrochemicals, the company has produced and distributed at least 1,850 kg of urea to rice farmers in the area since the company received a fertilizer briquetting machine from IFDC.

“This partnership with USAID WAFP and ATT will propel GreenShield towards the attainment of its goal of increasing agricultural productivity in the Volta Region through improved smallholder farmer access to appropriate fertilizers,” Ameyibor said.

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