Business News Wed, 24 May 2017

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Ministry of Agric complicit in subsidized fertilizer smuggling - Minister

Some Agric officers are conniving with fertilizer agents under the government’s fertilizer subsidy programme to smuggle large quantities of the chemicals outside the country, Deputy Upper West Regional Minister Amidu Chinia Ishahaku has revealed.

The practice, which he said the Ministry of Agriculture is complicit in, has deprived the poor beneficiary farmers access to fertilizers.

“…These people are not doing it alone, it’s not only a problem of the agents, the ministry of agriculture is complicit in this particular issue” the deputy minister claimed.

He cited an instance where one of the fertilizer companies supplied 4,700 bags of subsidized fertilizer to an agent in Tumu but the agent claimed he he only received 600 bags from the company.

Speaking at a two-day agriculture policy learning and sharing fair in Wa, the minister assured farmers he would pursue the matter to the fullest.

The fair was organised by Africa Lead and Business and Development Consultancy Centre and it was on the theme: “Quality agricultural services, key to smallholder farmers poverty reduction in Ghana”.

Mr Ishahaku observed that some people in authority are taking advantage of the government’s fertilizer subsidy programme to smuggle Ghanaian fertilizers to the detriment of the poor farmer.

He cautioned all actors involved in such illegal practice to desist or be dealt with by the law when caught.

“Government’s intention of agricultural subsidy is to reduce the cost of production for the ordinary people who are poor. Now these agents will take these fertilizers from the company and then bring it and tell you after one or two days that the fertilizer is finished, and then they will hoard it and later sell at open market prizes” he stated.

“I have to make a very strong case, you cannot allow our people to suffer when government is making efforts to help them because when an agent brings fertilizer which is subsidized and he’s supposed to sell, every single bag of fertilizer must be captured by the District Agric Officer” he said.

“I just checked one of the fertilizer companies and they have released 4,700 bags of atava (fertilizer) to a particular agent but the agent has insisted he was only given 600 bags which means that 4,100 bags are missing.

Only 600 bags of subsidized fertilizer have been sold to famers and this person is only trying to either smuggle it to Burkina or hoard it and sell at open market prizes, but eventually will get documents from ministry of agriculture to cover and get his money, can we develop our country this way?” he added.

Only 3 districts out of the 11 in the Upper West Region do not share border with Burkina Faso. They include Wa Municipal, Wa East and Daffiama -Bussie-Issa District which makes it more challenging in fighting smuggling in the Upper West Region.

Tractor services

“In my own area (Tumu), I am told the tractor owners have met and decided to take GHC107 right from GHC80 cedis last year which means that as we make efforts to reduce cost of production, other costs are increased therefore, it negates the efforts we are making” he stated.

Chief Executive Officer and National Coordinator of Agricultural Advisory Services Network in Ghana who also provides tractor services to farmers in the Northern Region, Chief Ishahaku Jesiwuni said he is ready to negotiate with the tractor owners in the upper west Region to reduce their price for the poor farmers.

He said tractor services in the Northern Region is GHC65 per acre saying the price of fuel is the same across board.

“I will present how I make my money and they will understand, in some cases I plough on credit. This year I asked them to deposit GHC25. If you are doing 6 acres I ask you to pay for 3, the remaining 3 you will pay after harvest either cash or in kind with no interest, but we are making noise that we are reducing poverty but we are not ready to sacrifice and farmers too are their own enemies. Sometimes you sacrifice your tractor for them and they don’t want to pay even after harvest, so majority of my farmers are women famers they are very reliable and honest, they chase you after harvesting to pay, but the men will never pay until you chase them with your sags” he explained.

Resource person, Madam Cecilia Adae, has challenged participants to understand all the policies on agric to demand for the fulfillment of what promise they made.

“We have created a platform where we can link up on the net so that they will be able to exchange ideas, they will be able to share information, we are doing all these things to make sure that agriculture transforms in Ghana”.

Source: 3 News

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