Farmers across the country are forced to engage the services of private soil science laboratories as government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) lacks the equipment to support the farmers in this regard.
According to the Senior Agric Officer in charge of Extension in the West Akim Municipality in the Eastern Region, Owiredu Gyamera Kwaku, in an interview with Enyonam, host of ‘The Ghanaian Farmer’ on Joy Prime Television, the Ministry has been relying on the Council For Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and soil science labs in universities to conduct the tests.
He added that this comes at an expensive cost and deters most farmers from testing their farms’ soils.
“MoFA is not testing because it is very expensive to do soil testing for all farmers. We don’t have the equipment. We will take it to the soil science labs at the various University research centres and CSIR for them to test,” he stated.
According to research, soil testing is an essential aspect of farming as it helps farmers to have detailed information about one of their most important resources; their soil for cultivation.
However, many small-scale farmers across Ghana lack access to facilities that can test the nutrient makeup of the soil they use to farm.
This, Mr Owiredu Gyamera insisted the need to help farmers to gain access to information about their soil is important to ensure farmers have the best chance to produce a healthy crop. He thus called on the government to procure the needed machines for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to conduct the test for farmers as often as possible.
Another important thing is that, for plant and crop production, soil testing enables planning a fertiliser programme that is accurate, timely and environmentally responsible; but many local farmers are used to applying fertilizers randomly without any standard recommendations.
This trend is likely to cause loss of money and result in environmental issues. Thus, soil testing services can help farmers to apply the required amount and kinds of supplemental nutrients.
“The farmers pay for it. Government needs to provide the equipment so that we can be testing the soil on regular basis for all farmers; getting your soil tested is very important to determine if you will have good yield or not,” Mr Owiredu Gyamera Kwaku stated.