From William Nlanjerbor JALULAH, Paga
BUT FOR the vigilance of security agencies at the Paga border in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region, 4,000 bags of fertilizers meant for government’s flagship programme ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’, would have been smuggled into Burkina Faso on Sunday.
Each truck carried 2,000 bags, weighed 25 kilogram of fertilizer meant for distribution to farmers.
Briefing the media, Upper East Regional Minister, Paulina Patience Abayage said the police have detained drivers of the trucks to assist in investigations.
She explained that the process involved in the receipt of the fertilizer was that, when it arrived in the region, the Weigh Bill must be endorsed by herself and the Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, after they have inspected and ensured the invoice was genuine and tallied with the quantity fertilizer the truck was carrying.
The minister, however, said she has delegated one of her administrators at her office to always do the endorsement on her behalf.
She explained that in order to curb the smuggling, the government has classified the fertilizers into two, with 50kg bags of fertilizer going to farmers in the southern sector while 25kg going to farmers in the northern sector.
“If you come to the northern part of Ghana, ours is in 25kg. So any fertilizer that will move to the northern part of Ghana and is 50kg, is supposed to be arrested, it is not supposed to be meant for here.
“If you come again and you don’t pass through the process we have shown you to get the regional minister to endorse and the regional director (of agriculture) to endorse, it is supposed to be impounded.
“When you get to the district, in this case, if it was actually meant for Navrongo, then this fertilizer should have gone to the district after endorsement. It will go to the district [municipal], the Municipal Director for agriculture and the Municipal Chief Executive will also endorse and receive it. It is a whole system to check the same thing that they try to do.”
She regretted that: “This government is spending so much to ensure that we get this fertilizer at fifty percent subsidy for our poor farmers so that they will be able to plant food for us to consume and export. And for one person, or a group of people, out of their own selfishness and greed, we decide to take this country for ransom and sabotage us economically.”
She further told the media that, “By the directive of the Minister for Agriculture and director in charge of Planting for Food and Jobs, these bags of fertilizers will be distributed and I’m going to go by that.
“We will look for the poor farmers, the widows and orphans who have lands but cannot farm across the region and then we will distribute it to them.”
According to the regional minister who doubled as the Chairperson of the Regional Security Council, the police have commenced investigations into the incident and when owners of the trucks were eventually arrested, they would be prosecuted.
She cautioned: “For as long as we are here and we are working as a security team, nobody across the entire country, nobody should make an attempt to come and cross with any fertilizer or do anything wrong or do anything outside of the process concerning this fertilizer, that it is meant for Planting for Food and Jobs, we are not going to sit back and watch people do that.”
Upper East Regional Director of Department of Agriculture, Francis Ennor, applauded the security services in the region for the timely intervention in ensuring the fertilizers were not smuggled out of the country.