The Ghana Cocoa Board has suspended the free distribution of fertilizer to farmers as a measure against smuggling.
This came to light at Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee hearing on Monday.
The Chief Executive for Cocoa Board, Joseph Aidoo told the committee that his outfit is subsidizing the fertilizer instead.
“It would interest the honourable members to know that, when the policy of free fertilizer was introduced, almost all our fertilizer were smuggled outside the country. when fertilizer is free and smugglers can get it at cheaper prices, then they are motivated to smuggle at a lower cost and it is on that basis we decided to revisit the policy. Today the fertilizers are subsided and farmers pay 80 cedis per bag, and this is just to make sure we close the smuggling gap. If we make it free it means that there is a huge incentive for people to smuggle,” he said.
Cocoa Board also defended the high number of employees.
An audit report showed that administrative costs have ballooned due to the rising staff strength.
“Administrative expenditure went up and it was because staff strength increased. The previous years the staff strength was 7,537 in 2015 it increased to 8,499. The increment in the administrative cost is basically explained by an increase in the staff strength,” he said.
About 50,000 metric tonnes of subsidized fertilizer worth $12 million meant for the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs program went missing in 2018.
The missing bags were believed to have been smuggled to Burkina Faso and Togo.
This is according to a report by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture on the financial estimates for 2019.
The report also pointed out that the allocation for 2019 to the Food and Agriculture Ministry for the purchase of fertilizer, was inadequate.
By: Farida Yusif | citinewsroom.com | Ghana