Issued on 20th August, 2019
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on government to punish smugglers of fertiliser under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme to deter others.
The association is of the view that the move can help safeguard taxpayer’s money.
The suggestion was contained in a statement read at PFAG’s press conference held in Accra last Tuesday, titled, “Fertiliser smugglers must be punished to deter others and safeguard the taxpayer’s money.”
Please read full statement below:
Issued on 20th August, 2019
At the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana’s Head Office, Accra
Fertilizer Smugglers must be Punished to Deter Others and Safeguard the Taxpayer’s Money.
Ladies and Gentlemen from the Media, we have invited you here this morning to share with you our thoughts on the alarming rate of fertilizer smuggling in Ghana and its implication on smallholder farmer’s crop productivity and food security, come 2020.
The inception of the fertilizer subsidy program under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) in 2017 has benefited many smallholder farmers as they were able to expand their farms and afford fertilizer at a reasonable price in 2017 and 2018 farming seasons.
Unfortunately, the high rate of consistent smuggling in 2019 has made it difficult for us to access the fertilizer. Many of us in Northern Ghana are not benefiting from the programme; we now rely on the open market fertilizer which is very expensive.
It is for this reason that we, the members of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana representing the voices of majority of smallholder farmers in Ghana, wish to make known to all of you and the Ghanaian public the magnitude of the smuggling for you to assist in bringing this unacceptable illegality to an end.
Friends from the Media, while we thank the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo, and support his call for stringent measures from the security agencies against his saboteurs, as he stated during his recent visit to the Upper East Region of Ghana, PFAG also challenges His Excellency not to only associate the smuggling with outsiders but also look within.
Ladies and Gentlemen from the media, the development is worrying as most farmers who need fertilizer in the month of July and August have to purchase it from the open market. This has serious implications on crop yields and efforts to make the country a food secure nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it will interest you to note that contrary to claims by fertilizer dealers of unavailability of subsidized fertilizer for peasant farmers across the northern part of Ghana in the month of July and August, large quantities of this same fertilizer are available for smugglers. Where do they source their subsidized fertilizer from?
Friends from the media, a report sighted by PFAG on www.ghanaweb.com on 22ndMarch 2019 reported lamentation of the Director of Crops Services, Mr. Seth Osei-Akoto, on the increasing cases of fertilizer smuggling in the country. According to him “50,000 bags of fertilizer have been smuggled from Ghana to other African countries, as far as Cameroon”.Since then, there have been several reported cases of fertilizer smuggling in 2019 which have been headlined and discussed on various media outlets.
The saddest part of this discussion is that there has been little or no information on how the culprits are dealt with, according to law. A few of the smuggled cases monitored by PFAG include but are not limited to the following:
1. On 26thApril, 2019, two trucks carrying 2,000 bags of smuggled subsidized fertilizer heading to Sissala East were impounded and reported by the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council.
2. On 22ndMay 2019, Ghana News Agency (GNA) reported that, 54 articulated trucks carrying a total of 86,400 bags of smuggled subsidized fertilizer on its way to Burkina Faso were impounded in the Upper West Region.
3. On 11thJune 2019, 4,000 bags of fertilizers being smuggled to Burkina Faso were retrieved around the Paga border in the Kassena-Nankana West district of the Upper East region.
4. On 26thJuly, 1,000 bags of fertilizer were retrieved at Navrongo in the Upper East region where the smuggler attempted to remove the PFJ logos from the bags (www.dailynewsgh.com).
5. On 13thAugust 2019, two trucks carrying 2,000 bags of fertilizer being smuggled to Burkina Faso were impounded in the Upper West region (www.ghanaweb.com).
6. And most recently, yesterday, www.classfmonline.com reported that 6 persons have been arrested at Ogorme, a suburb of Somanya in the Eastern region, for smuggling 4,000 bags of subsidized fertilizer.
The estimated total number of smuggled fertilizer reported in 2019 currently stands at 99,400 bags valued at about GHS 7.4 million.
Even though this figure is less than the recorded figure of 12 million dollars in 2018, as reported by the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin-Salih (www.businessghana.com), we are worried that we might be exceeding that figure this year.This is because the reported cases are those put in the public domain, but since majority of smallholder farmers, especially in the Northern parts of the country are still struggling to access subsidized fertilizer in 2019, the reasonable conclusion is that greater quantities of the subsidized fertilizer have left the system, escaping the lens of the media.
A typical example of the suffering of majority of smallholder farmers in Ghana is when PFAG responded to the call by His Excellency to make Ghana self-sufficient in rice production by cultivating 500 acres of rice in theMamprugu-Mogduri district valleysin 2019 for its members under block farming arrangement, but have not been able to access subsidized fertilizer till date. A development likely to affect rice productivity in the 2019 farming season.
Whilst PFAG appreciates the efforts of the security agencies in preventing some of the subsidized fertilizer purchased with the Ghanaian tax payer’s money from entering the neighboring countries, we are highly disappointed with the failure of all the measures put in place by government to ensure that farmers get their full benefit from the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme.
The fertilizer smuggling has negative implications on the quest by His Excellency to develop Ghana Beyond Aid, make Ghana food secure as well as contribute to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially, Goal One on “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the impact of Fertilizer smuggling in Ghana is huge and has multiple effects on all Ghanaians even compared to armed robbery cases. As destructive as it is, armed robbers attack individuals or group of individuals but the impact of fertilizer smuggling is more widespread, with long term effects as it affects food security which affects incomes, health and general livelihoods. And yet many cases of robbery are publicized for all of us to see the robbers. We also want to see those smuggling the fertilizer being punished and published for every Ghanaian to know them.
Ladies and Gentlemen from the Media, PFAG calls on the Special Prosecutors’ Office to strengthen its role of investigating the public officials involved to account to the tax payer. In the President’s own words, “it is not tenable that we use our taxpayers’ money to subsidize the price of fertilizer by 50 percent with the aim of improving agriculture productivity only for a few greedy people to let the country down.” For fertilizer smuggling to stop in Ghana, we recommend the following:
1. The names of all smugglers be made public and stringent punishment be given to deter others.
2. The subsidized fertilizer be channeled through farmer groups and associations like PFAG for subsequent distribution to members.
3. We call on all farmers, general public and civil servants working with institutions handling subsidized fertilizer to serve as watchdogs to provide information on any hint of smuggling to the security agencies
4. Finally, we call on the Special Prosecutor’s Office to investigate all smuggling cases and bring the culprits to book
Ladies and gentlemen, the smuggling must end now! Thank you for your attention.
For further information, please contact:
Abdul- Rahman Mohammed- National President 0243 633 666
Ms. Victoria Adongo, Executive Director 0244 657 451
Mr. Charles Nyaaba, Head of Programmes & Advocacy 0203 035 672
Signed by: Mr. Abdul- Rahman Mohammed
(National President and Board Chair of PFAG)
Long live the Peasant Farmer, Long Live Ghana!