The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has been urged to intensify its surveillance on the modalities used for the distribution of subsidised fertilisers to farmers in the three northern regions of the country.
This, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) posits, would help limit the leakages associated with the distribution process which often led to the smuggling of the fertiliser to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Togo.
The Programme Officer of the PFAG, Mr Charles Nyaaba, who expressed concerns about the rising spate of the smuggling on subsidised fertiliser, told the Graphic Business on July 26 that the distribution process made it easier for some unscrupulous people to outwit the system.
“The MoFA needs to intensify surveillance on the modalities that is used for the distribution to ensure that there is limited leakages.”
“The security agencies must also intensify their checks at the border posts and also extend it to unapproved routes because some of the smuggled fertiliser does not only pass through the main borders but also through unapproved routes,” he said.
He said using their registered identity cards, some Ghanaians who are not necessarily farmers were able to go through the process to get specified quantities of subsidised fertilisers and after use motorbikes to transport them to the other countries.
“The smuggling is not necessarily done by government officials but it is done by Ghanaians who are not necessarily farmers. These are people from the community, they get their ID cards, go to the MoFA office and tell them they have 10 acres of either rice or maize farm.”
“The officials issue them the form, they fill it and go and pay the money to the bank. When they take their allocations, they take motorcycles and convey them through unapproved routes across the border,” he said.
A statement issued by the PFAG and signed by its Programme Coordinator, Ms Victoria Adongo said the association had received reports that bags of subsidised fertiliser were being smuggled out of the country to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Togo.
It said some members of the fertiliser security watchdog committee set up by the association had attested to the fact that the commodity could be seen in some shops located on the border towns that share boundary with Ghana.
“This is unfortunate, especially after the all the assurances our farmers received with regards to that fact that this year, the fertiliser will be made available for the Ghanaian farmer only. Our farmers will be disadvantaged if this practice is not checked and stopped now,” the statement said.
It also added that the fertiliser watchdog committee members would continue to monitor the movement of subsidised fertilisers across neighbouring countries and report such perpetrators to the security agencies for arrest and prosecution.
Smuggling gone on for long
Mr Nyaaba said although it was difficult to quickly pinpoint those smuggling, the exercise started in the middle of May when the distribution of subsidised fertiliser started in the three northern regions.
“This started when they subsidy programme distribution started in northern Ghana; in the middle of May and early part of June till date. The smuggling is going on more in the three northern regions but more in Upper East and Upper West because they have more direct access to Togo and Burkina Faso,” he said.
He said the smuggling was more of the fertiliser that is produced by Yara because that was the type of fertiliser that farmers Burkina Faso liked to us.
He said the open market price for the 50 kilogrammes of the NPK fertiliser is GH¢114 but under the subsidy programme, farmers pay GH¢57 for the same quantity. — GB