By Maxwell Ofori
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged farmers to help his government stamp out the smuggling of fertilisers meant for cocoa farmers in the country.
According to him, it is not right for a few individuals to stab the nation in the back because of their selfish interest in smuggling fertilisers to Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire and other nearby countries.
Explaining to the farmers the disservice these smugglers do to the entire nation, President Akufo-Addo noted that such behaviour hurt the citizens, whose sweat, in the form of taxes paid, were used to subsidise the fertilisers.
The President made the appeal when he met the Ghana Coffee Cocoa Sheanut Farmers Association at Jubilee House last Friday. Indicating that cocoa farmers were the primary beneficiaries of the fertiliser subsidy programme, President Akufo-Addo saw the meeting as very appropriate to make the appeal.
He said: “But, as far as it concerns you, I want to make an appeal to you. We take the taxpayers’ money to subsidise fertiliser and import.
“It’s not correct that few people for their selfish interest will then take these [fertilisers] which has been subsidised by the hardworking sweat of Ghanaian farmers, and go and smuggle it to Burkina Faso; smuggle it to Cote d’Ivoire.
“It is not right, and I want you to help me stamp out smuggling of fertiliser in our country. When we do that we are hurting ourselves. The fertiliser subsidy is not coming from Akufo-Addo’s pocket. I don’t have that kind of money. It is coming from the coffers of the state. Then a few criminal elements, because they want to make more money, will then smuggle this across. If we are all eager and focus, we can stop it,” he asserted.
Last year, the fertiliser subsidy programme targeted 500,000 farmers, and provided farmers with fertiliser for all year round farming. This year, the coordinators have a target of one million tonnes.
News broke last week that some 50,000 bags of fertiliser meant for farmers under the Planting For Food and Jobs (PFJs) were last year smuggled across to the neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger and Mali.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has taken a step to curb the smuggling menace by introducing a new technological system to monitor the fertiliser subsidy programme and farming inputs given farmers.
The system requires every farmer who wants to benefit from the subsidy to be biometrically registered. It will be able to track all fertiliser bags and inputs from suppliers all the way to the end user, which is the farmer.
At the President’s encounter with the Ghana Coffee, Cocoa, Sheanut Farmers Association, he expressed happiness over the support farmers had given Operation Vanguard, which is helping to protect the nation’s lands from destruction.
He also reiterated the government’s commitment to support farmers in the country and ensure they got value for their inputs.