Story by Dennis Asare
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), is calling for the naming, shaming and prosecution of persons who have been caught smuggling subsidised fertiliser to neighbouring countries, to deter others from the criminal practice.
Aside the state law enforcement agencies, it has asked the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate the public officials involved in the smuggling and make them accountable for their actions.
Otherwise, the association expressed worry that the reported cases of smuggling, estimated to be 99,400 bags, valued at Gh¢7.4 million, so far this year, would exceed the 12million dollars reported last year.
“The development is worrying as most farmers who need fertilisers in the months of July and August have to purchase from the open market. This has serious implications on crop yields,” the President of PFAG, Mr Mohammed Abdul-Rahman said at a press conference in Accra, yesterday.
The distribution of subsidised fertilisers is a component under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme introduced in 2017 by the government. Smallholder farmers enjoy a 50 percent discount on a bag of fertiliser that should cost GH¢150.
Since the introduction, there have been several reports of smuggling of the fertilisers to neighbouring countries with many 99,400 bags, valued at GH¢7.4 million impounded so far this year.
However, little is known about the identity of the offenders and their prosecution and this, according to Mr Abdul-Rahman, was spurring the criminals on.
He said the conclusion from the lack of access to the subsidised inputs, especially in the northern part of the country was that greater quantities had left the system while large quantities were allegedly available for smuggling.
Citing an instance of the impact of the woes of the smallholder farmers, he said 500 acres of rice in the Mamprugu-Mogduri district valleys in 2019 for members of the association under a block farming arrangement, had not had the inputs till date, a development that could affect rice productivity in the 2019 farming season.
While Mr Abdul-Rahman, appreciated the efforts of security agencies in preventing the smuggling, he said, “We are highly disappointed with the failure of all measures put in place by the government to ensure farmers benefitted from the programme”.
He, therefore, suggested that the subsidised fertiliser were channelled through farmer groups like PFAG for distribution and called on the general public and civil servants to report perpetrators of the crime to the security agencies.
The Executive Director of PFAG, Veronica Adongo said if the smuggling issue was not brought under control, government’s plan to set up a fertiliser factory would be fraught with same challenges.