Government’s agriculture support programme, Planting for Food and Jobs has suffered a huge loss through smuggling of the subsidized fertilizer meant for farmers under the initiative by some unscrupulous persons.
The Agricultural Ministry made a shocking revelation that a large number of fertilizer that was smuggled into neighbouring countries including Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali and as far as Cameroon during the last farming season.
Director of crop services at the Ministry Seth Akoto Osei mentioned that, 50,000 bags of fertilizer were smuggled outside the country under the coupon system last year which has since been scrapped.
According to him, most distributors and retailers lost thousands of Ghana cedis to the ministry as fake fertilizer coupons were used to access fertilizers under the planting for food and jobs.
At a conference of input dealers held in Bolgatanga and organised by PETASGO Enterprise, main distributors of fertiliser under the PFJ initiative in Upper East region to sensitize them and other stakeholders in the Agric sector, Mr. Seth Akoto Osei disclosed that new modalities have been rolled out for this year’s farming season to stop the smuggling that characterized last year’s season.
As part of the new modalities, all seeds and fertilizers under the planting for Food and Jobs programme shall be labelled.
Fertilizer distributors and retailers will also now require the services of NABCO officials before distributing to farmers while Regional Ministers and District/Municipal Chief Executives would be receiving and examining waybills covering fertilisers that arrive in their jurisdictions.
The Ministry has also introduced a software and coding system which would code and track goods that are issued by retailers and distributors.
The new modalities have replaced the coupon system.
Also, the Planting for Food and Jobs seeds and fertilizers will be bagged with PFJ labels and farmers in the five regions of the North shall be entitled to 25kg of fertilizer at a cost of GHC37.50 for NPK and GHC35.00 for Urea whilst their colleagues in the South, 50kg at a cost of GHC75 for NPK and GHC70.00 for Urea.
“Fertilizers and seeds distributors and retailers in the various regions will have to liaise with recruited NABCO officials under the supervision of MMDCEs, to distribute fertilizers to the sale outlets. NABCO officials will be placed at all retail outlets to supervise and record the quantities of fertilizers and seeds being sold to farmers to curb the menace of smuggling” Mr. Akoto said.
He further stated that, 2,700 extension officers will be recruited this year to augment timely services to farmers.