COCOBOD EXPLORING FERTILISER ALTERNATIVES

Ghana’s Cocoa regulator (COCOBOD) has responded to concerns about fertiliser shortages as a result of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Russia is the world’s leading provider of ingredients like nitrogen potassium and phosphorus, which are used in the production of fertilisers. The sanctions imposed upon them by the West have understandably raised concerns about the supply and pricing for this important commodity.

If Russian exports continue to be hindered by the sanctions, it could mean less fertiliser reaching countries like Ghana, and this could have a knock-on effect on the country’s Cocoa production, and therefore global cocoa supply as a whole.

Implicit in this statement is that the country will reduce exports, potentially causing a domino effect for importing countries

In response to the concerns, COCOBOD have urged cocoa farmers to remain calm, reassuring them that at present the country has enough chemical fertiliser. Speaking with Graphic Business, Mr Fifi Boafa, COCOBOD’s Senior Public Affairs Manager confirmed that the board has access to sufficient fertiliser supplies, but the ongoing replenishment of stock in the appropriate quantities and time frames is not guaranteed. If the war in Ukraine continues, he also warns that sales into Russian and Ukrainian markets could suffer.

There is no challenge at the moment as we have fertiliser supplies, but of course, we cannot fold our arms and sit. We still do not know the extent of the crisis; things are fluid, but as you go on, you have to prepare.

Mr Fifi Boafa, COCOBOD’s Senior Public Affairs Manager

COCOBOD are now looking at alternatives to chemical fertilisers in order to reduce reliance on Russian exports. The current candidate to take its place is poultry manure. “going for poultry manure is within our control and that is why we are urging the farmers to consider it” , said Mr Boafa.

Ghana’s Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, is in support of the use of organic fertilisers as a replacement for the chemical counterpart, if a global shortage persists. Speaking to the National Fertiliser Council, Dr Akoto said that a switch to organic fertiliser could protect the country from potential price hikes. “We at the ministry have a strategy to at least alleviate the full impact of what is happening, which is to encourage farmers to apply organic fertiliser. We know that, for instance, poultry manure is being exported from this country to neighbouring countries, which are using it on their farms.”

We should therefore, be able to use these organic fertilisers locally ,to continue promoting our increase in production in the country.

Mr Fifi Boafa, COCOBOD’s Senior Public Affairs Manager

Implicit in this statement is that the country will reduce exports, potentially causing a domino effect for importing countries. We saw a similar move recently in 2020 when Vietnam halted exports of Rice to prioritise internal food security.

The use of fertilisers in Ghanaian farms is also on the rise, with average usage increasing from 8kg per hectare in 2016 to 25kg per hectare. Despite this, the country is still only at 50% of its goal to achieve an average of 50kg per hectare, as set by the Economic Community of West Africa States.

Dr Akoto comments. “Unfortunately, there is a setback in terms of what is happening on the world market

For instance, prices skyrocketed from $350 per metric tonne for urea in Ghana, which went as high as $1200 ,and started coming down. but with the Ukraine crisis, I do not know where it is now… So, we have a problem in terms of availability and price”

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ghana’s Minister of Food and Agriculture

A fertiliser shortage would, of course, have a wider reaching impact on commodity production outside of Ghana, but with the West African country commanding such a high proportion of global cocoa, their response to the situation is of particular interest to us.

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