Government urged to channel subsidized fertilizers to farmers groups

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on government to channel the subsidized fertilizers through farmer groups and associations for subsequent distribution to members to avoid smuggling.

The Association called on all farmers, the public and civil servants working with institutions handling subsidized fertilizers to serve as a watchdogs to provide timely information on any hint of smuggling to the security agencies.

Mr Abdul-Rahman Mohammed, the National President of PFAG, made the call on Tuesday at a press briefing held to deliberate on the increasing rate of smuggled subsidized fertilizers in the country.
Government as part of its vision to increase agricultural production, subsidized fertilizers for smallholder farmers in the country.

The subsidy means, the farmers will pay 50 per cent, amounting to GH¢75 of the price of a bag of fertilizer which cost GH¢150.
In January 2019, two trucks loaded with bags of fertilizers meant for the “Planting for Food and Job programme were impounded by the security when the drivers of the trucks tried to cross the Paga border into Burkina-Faso.

Each of the two trucks was carrying 2000 (25kg) Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) branded fertilizers, bringing the total to 4000 bags that were being smuggled to the detriment of the farmers in the Upper East region.
Also in August, the Police arrested six persons at Ogorme, a suburb of Somanya in the Eastern Region for smuggling 4,000 bags of subsidized fertilizers.
Mr Mohammed said the estimated total number of smuggled fertilizers as at July 2019 stands at 99,400 bags valued about at GH¢7.4 million.

The Association has called on authorities to publish the names of all smugglers and impose stringent sanctions to serve as a deterrent to others.

“We also call on the Special Prosecutor’s office to investigate all smuggling cases and bring the culprits to book”.

He said the inception of the fertilizer subsidy programme under the PFJ in 2017 has benefited many smallholder farmers as they are able to expand their farms and can afford fertilizers at a reasonable price in 2017 and 2018 farming seasons.

Mr Mohammed said the high rate of consistent smuggling in 2019 has made it difficult for the farmers to access the fertilizers, and as a result, many of the farmers rely on the open market fertilizers at a cost of GH¢150.
The Association commended President Akufo-Addo for calling on the security agencies to arrest any culprit who sabotaged government policies especially fertilizer smuggling.
Mr Charles Kwowe Nyaaba, the Head of Programmes, PFAG, said his outfit had to calm farmers in the northern regions who had threatened to demonstrate on the issue, calling on government to act quickly to avert any problems.
Mr Wefia Addo Awal Adugwala, a Board Member for PFAG representing Western and Central regions, urged government to intervene on the issues because some persons are sabotaging government policy on agriculture.
Mr Mugiss Badigamsi Abdulai, a Board Member of PFAG, said government policies on agriculture has increased the interest of the youth to engage in farming, but the incidence of smuggled fertilizers could discourage many prospective farmers.

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