Stakeholders in the agriculture sector are worried about the soil nutrient deficiencies which are currently affecting farm yields. Research has shown that soil nutrients level is on a downward trajectory threatening food security in the country if not immediately addressed. To address this problem, Tropenbos Ghana together with Friends of the Nation and the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources - KNUST is implementing the EU-funded Research for Development and Innovation Agriculture and Learning (ReDIAL) project in Ghana. The project aims to contribute transformation and innovation in agriculture and food systems in Ghana through action research, application of innovative technologies, and organization of farmers and multi-stakeholder platforms. The project also seeks to generate discussions on alternative soil nutrient improvement to inform policymakers and stakeholders about best practices for sustainable soil nutrient enrichment as well as present the opportunity to initiate discussions on a soil health policy for Ghana. Soil sampling grids for the project districts include Sefwi Wiawso Municipality, Techiman Municipality, Ejura-Sekyedumase, Yendi Municipality, and Kwahu Afram Plains North District. Prof Boateng Kyereh, Lecturer at the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources – KNUST, noted that, one of the challenges facing Ghanaian farmers is the lack of scientific data on soil fertility variations within specific local contexts. He said, as a result, the mass application of inorganic fertilizers has not yielded desired outcomes. “In response to this challenge, the ReDIAL project sought to generate scientific data on specific soil nutrient deficiencies within target landscapes to enable farmers to make informed decisions on soil amendments and the use of climate-compatible technology for improving soil fertility and crop yield”, he said. He revealed that, soils in the tropics are generally poor and it is no surprise that, Ghana is having challenges with its soil fertility. As part of the project, farmers in the selected districts have benefited from technology transfer through the Farmsense technology where farmers are able to measure the nitrogen, phosphorous, Ph, temperature, and moisture of the soil before planting.
Dr Edward Yeboah, Director of CSIR – Soil Research Institute- Kumasi
He recommended that, government and private sector promote the development and use of locally bagged organic fertilizers. Prof Kyereh said, due to the slow manifestation of the benefits of organic fertilizers, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture should build the confidence of farmers in its usage, adding that, there should also be a continuous improvement by research institutions. On his part, Dr Edward Yeboah, Director of CSIR – Soil Research Institute- Kumasi, said the project has enabled them to come out with soil maps to get soil information across the country. The soil maps, he noted, would be helpful for fertilizer production and recommendation. He said, with the availability of the soil maps, it is imperative to forecast crop yields using the soil information and this can be done when relevant stakeholders come together to harmonize their work. He said there is also the need to work towards national soil policy.