The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has suspended nine Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs) in the four regions of the north from engaging in the retail, haulage, and distribution of subsidised fertilizers under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
According to the Ministry, the action has been necessitated by constant reports of infractions, misappropriations and alleged smuggling of subsidized fertilizers to neighboring countries.
The affected districts are Bawku Municipal, Bawku West, Garu District, Pusiga and Tempane Districts in the Upper East Region, Chereponi in the Northern Region and Saboba District in the North East Region.
The rest are the Sissala East and West Districts of the Upper West Region.
The Ministry has therefore directed all companies contracted to supply the inputs to beneficiary farmers in the affected districts to cease dealing with the various retail outlets and deal directly with the respective Municipal and District Directorates of Agriculture.
The decision was reached last week after a meeting between the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto and his colleague ministers from the Northern, Upper East, and West Regions.
Announcing the decision last week, the Minister of Food and Agriculture said: “henceforth all subsidized fertilizers earmarked for the above-mentioned district and municipalities will be deposited at the various district offices and will be given directly to farmers without intermediaries.”
“We have therefore informed all our suppliers to liaise with the respected assemblies to implement the directives without delay,” Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto indicated.
The Minister pointed out that the move has become necessary as a stop-gap measure to curb the activities of fertilizer smuggling and ensure the equitable distribution of the inputs to farmers.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto further added that all persons arrested in connection with the alleged smuggling and misappropriation of the inputs under the program are being investigated and will be arraigned before the court once investigations are concluded.
“Meanwhile, the Ministry wishes to clarify media reports on the indefinite suspension of one of the suppliers by name Demeter, following breaches of the modalities in the supply and distribution of the inputs. The report sought to create an erroneous impression that the company had engaged in actual smuggling of the said quantity of inputs. We wish to clarify that the action of the company only amounted to breaches of the rules and regulations governing the implementation of the program.”
Per the modalities, waybill covering all fertilizers being moved from one place to another must be verified and approved by the Regional Minister and the MMDCEs.
“However, in the case of the said consignments, the management of Demeter Ghana Limited failed to comply with this modality though there is no evidence of attempted smuggling.”
In 2018, there were recorded cases of fertilizer smuggling, a development that continuously impedes the successful implementation of the Government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) program.
MoFA at the time said it was intensifying measures to check and eliminate fertilizer smuggling to neighboring and other African countries but it appears the new modalities introduced to be used for the distribution of fertilizers to farmers are not yielding the needed results.
Already, two registered input suppliers under the government’s flagship project Planting for Food and Jobs have been blacklisted for attempting to smuggle fertilizer to neighboring Burkina Faso.
The two companies are; Intercontinental Agro Group and Dematar Ghana Company.
Government subsidized fertilizer under its Planting for Food and Jobs aimed at increasing food production to address the high imports of foodstuff into the country.
The government this year branded its subsidized fertilizer for easy identification to curb smuggling.