Substandard pesticides are said to be penetrating the agro-input market in Ghana on the back of the rising cost of authentic crop nutrition products globally.
Global prices of quality fertilisers and pesticides are getting more and more out of the reach of ordinary farmers, a situation industry players say is leading to the patronage of cheap counterfeit products.
Substandard fertilisers penetrating market
Mr Bernard Okutu, the Managing Director of Calli Ghana, a multinational agro-input supply company, told Cocoa Post that industry stakeholders have observed the worrying trend, which he fears is being exacerbated by the rising cost of authentic products.
“We are having substandard products on the market and just [last] week CropLife Ghana organised a meeting with EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] to ensure that we clamp down on the counterfeit products that are on the market,” Okutu said.
Effects on soil and productivity
He emphasised that the agrochemical suppliers fraternity is quite concerned “because a farmer will not have the ability to test whether a product is good or not, so far as they can afford if it’s cheaper, they go in for it.”
He warned of serious implications for Ghana’s agriculture and food security if the situation with substandard fertilisers and agrochemicals are allowed to fester.
The Calli Ghana boss stated, “that as well affects the soil quality, which will then affect the productivity as well.”
Health implications for consumers
Ghanaian authorities including Ghana Cocoa Board have been encouraging farmers to explore organic alternatives in the wake of the rising cost of conventional plant nutrition and pesticide products.
But that call, though commendable, stakeholders say might not help as the share of organic pesticides in the agrochemicals market locally is negligible, hence farmers resort to cheaper and substandard alternatives.
Bernard Okutu stressed that “if we are buying sub-standard products, what it means is that residue levels on our produce will be very high and our health issues as well as will increase.”
He assured that local input suppliers are committed to ensuring food security, although fertiliser imports are coming at a very high cost.
“We are trying to augment the granular with the foliar which is a bit cheaper to ensure that the farmers can be supported to reduce the food security issues we could have in future,” he said.
Salvaging the situation
He reposed confidence in the EPA and industry stakeholders collaborating to nip the growing prevalence of substandard pesticides on the market in the bud.
“They have taken some actions and I believe that if it is continued, we will be able to salvage the situation,” Okutu noted.
Exchange rate challenge
The global cost of agrochemicals is increasing due to supply chain challenges in recent times, a development linked to the Russian-Ukraine situation.
However, in Ghana retail prices of pesticides and other agrochemicals are seeing unprecedented hikes due to exchange rate challenges caused by a fast depreciating local currency.
Reacting to the situation, Mr Okutu disclosed the exchange rate challenge is impacting a lot of “companies that are importing the input, like us.”
No more credit for retailers
Okutu said, “we are currently trying to manage the situation with some forwards at the bank. But you know that forwards also come with a cost.”
He regretted, “now most companies are doing cash basis instead of giving credit for 40-45 days as we used to do a year ago. That is being reduced because you need the cash as early as possible to turn it around to pay your supplier.”
Bernard Okutu, Managing Director of Calli Ghana explained that “typically for an organisation like us who import and distribute if the exchange rate is not stable it affects our final prices and also paying your supplier.”
“We need an improvement in the economy, obviously exchange rates will have to be stabilised to ensure that businesses like us will have the ability to continue into the foreseeable future,” he underscored.
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