Baseline Study on Fertilizer Use and Food Nutrition Security in the Sudan Savannah, Guinea Savannah, and Trasitional Zones of Ghana

Smallholder farmers play a significant role in ensuring the food security of China. With current productivity shortfalls, improving crop yields is a major concern to many agricultural stakeholders. The challenges to productivity improvement may be enormous, as it requires an integrated approach. However, declining soil fertility remains a key issue. The Government of Ghana (GoG) over the years has rolled out various fertilizer subsidy programs to enhance the use of inorganic and organic fertilizers. Yet according to the tenet of the FERARI program, the widespread adoption of appropriate fertilizers requires a transformation of the fertilizer sector and food systems that must be driven by evidence-based agro-technical perspectives. Therefore, baseline information on farming in the Transitional and Guinea Savannah zones of Ghana was collected from 1,450 farmers. Objectively, this report provides information on the farmers and farm characteristics, fertilizer use and crop responses, food security, and poverty in the study regions. The study established that access to institutional inputs, such as credit and extension services, was low among the farmers. Most of the farmers cultivated no more than 2 hectares (ha) of land area, with more area allocated to maize than to rice and soybean. There was low adoption of integrated agronomic practices by the farmers, which may have implications for their farm yields. Contrary to the subsistence connotation with smallholders, many farmers in this study cultivating maize, rice, and soybean sell their produce rather than using it directly for home consumption. However, concems over market and prices remain crucial for the commercialization of agriculture. About 80% of the farmers used at least one type of fertilizer during the 2019 production season. The main fertilizers used by the farmers were NPK 15-15-15, urea, and ammonium sulfate (AS). NKP 15-20-20+0.7Zn was also used by about one-fifth of the farmers and was promoted under the GoG's flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) program. A lack of funds, coupled with low credit access, was the major challenge to fertilizer use by the farmers. The intensity of fertilizer use was influenced by several factors, particularly extension access, credit access, Poverty Probability Index (PPI), labor, perception of soil fertility, and region. Farmers indicated their desire for fertilizer and other production-related information through information and communication technology (ICT), such as SMS, social media (WhatsApp), and direct phone calls. • The Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) was an average of 7.6 in a range of 1-12, which represents moderate dietary diversity for the majority of the farmers. Dietary diversity highest in Inner East Region and lower in North East Region According the which represents moderate dietary diversity for the majority of the farmers. Dietary diversity was highest in Upper East Region and lowest in North East Region. According to the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) index, about 18% of the farming households were severely or moderately food insecure. To cope with food insecurity, farmers relied on lower quality foods or less preferred foods. The use of fertilizer led to positive impacts on maize, rice, and soybean yields. Although there were lower fertilizer application rates than recommended and regional disparities in the impacts of fertilizer on yields, it was generally observed that there were differences in yield for NPK combined with S and NPK combined with Zn. However, there is the need to further evaluate these yield difference under a controlled trial, in which the application rate of both fertilizer formulations can be better studied. • Overall, yield increase due to fertilizer use was low at only around 5-10 kilograms (kg) of maize grain per kilogram of N applied, compared to 40 kg of grain per kilogram of N applied in developed nations. Similar low responses hold for other nutrients, suggesting other factors depress yield more heavily than fertilizer use. . Although farmers who use fertilizers indicate their importance for increasing yield, no difference in HFIAS was observed between farmers that used fertilizers and those that did not. There was no significant difference in yield between farmers who purchased fertilizers at subsidized prices and those who purchased at commercial prices, Farmers who broadcast fertilizer had lower yields for all crops than those who did not. Also, farmers who indicated applying the recommended fertilizer type at the right time has higher yields than those who did not. Maize farmers who applied fertilizer at the recommended rate had higher yields than those who did not, which was not the case for rice and soybean farmers. The average annual income of the sampled farmers was GHS 6,597 compared with an average household food expenditure of GHS 6,915. The major source of income for many households was farm income. Therefore, improving the farm returns of the farmers would mean that their standard of living would be improved. The results provide a set of indicators for monitoring under the FERARI program. These include farm productivity (crop area, crop yields, and farm income), farm output handling (access to market, sales, and consumption volumes), production factors (fertilizers, improved seeds, labor use and labor productivity, and integrated agricultural practices), food security and poverty (HFIAS, HDDS, and poverty levels), and information and support (access to extension services, credit, and subsidized inputs [particularly fertilizer].
Fertilizers, Food security
Adzawla, William, Isaac N. Kissidue, Edward Martey, Prince M. Etwire, Williams K. Atakora, Amadou Gouzaye, and Prem S. Bindraban. 2021. Baseline Study on Fertilizer Use and Food/Nutrition Security in the Sudan Savannah, Guinea Savannah, and Transitional Zones of Ghana. IFDC FERARI Research Report No. 5