A monitoring report released by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), has indicted some personnel of the Nation Builders Corps (NABCo) in the ongoing smuggling and hoarding of subsidized fertilizers under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) programme.
The report, which was compiled by the association in 2020, and released in June this year, indicated that 90 percent of farmers – both male and female, in seven selected beneficiary districts across the country, have said NABCO officials, working at the department of agriculture in these districts, are heavily involved in the PFJ fertilizer smuggling scourge.
The seven districts, where the monitoring was conducted, include, Hohoe, Shai Osudoku, Gushegu, West Mamprusi, Mamprugu Moagduri, Pusiga and the Sissala East districts.
Indicators for the assertion
PFAG said, key indicators for choosing the above-mentioned districts for the monitoring, were the heavy presence of its membership, high level of smuggling in these districts – border towns, and high fertilizer consumption in these areas.
The association indicated that it has interviewed 4,200 farmers through focus group discussions in the districts, 14 fertilizer retailers and officials of the regional and district departments of agriculture to ascertain the fact. The report also mentioned, collusion between fertilizer dealers and security agencies and purchasing of more than the agreed quantities as banes of the subsidy programme.
PFAG recommended increased collaboration with traditional leaders, the police, farmer groups, assembly members and citizens to further improve the monitoring and surveillance of the programme at the community level during the 2021 season.
Losses and President’s appeal
Ghana lost about US$12 million in 2018 to fertilizer smuggling. The amount, according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has been skyrocketing in subsequent years due to some unscrupulous persons who continuously perpetuate the menace.
In June 2021, about 13,500 bags of subsidized fertilizer valued at GH¢1.6 million were carted out of the country through the Sissala West district to Burkina Faso, President Akufo-Addo revealed, when he visited some constituencies in the Upper West region. He, nevertheless, appealed to the chiefs and people of the region to work in tandem with security agencies to halt the canker.
Indeed, in its last engagement with fertilizer suppliers and farmers during a policy dialogue and sensitization on the 2021 PFJ implementation strategy, Director of Crop Services at MoFA, Seth Osei-Akoto told the B&FT that the smugglers are a complex networked cartel, operating with sophistication.
PFAG’s position for 2022 crop season
Amidst the growing challenges confronting the fertilizer subsidy programme, PFAG’s Head of Programmes and Advocacy, Dr Charles Nyaaba, has appealed to government to cancel the subsidy in order to enable farmers to buy inputs from the open market from next crop season.
PFAG indicated that the cancelation, would offer government some respite and save millions of taxpayers’ money used to finance the programme. The association said it is ready to call its own meeting to advice members, should government fail to review the programme in the next crop season.
The PFAG is the apex Farmer-Based Non-Governmental Organization in Ghana with the mandate to advocate pro poor agriculture and trade policies and other issues that affects the livelihoods of small holder farmers. The association consists of individual farmers and farmer groups, as well as value chain actors numbering over 1,000,055 and 1,962 farmers Based Organisations (FBOs).