Continued smuggling subsidized fertilizer threatens success of PFJ

While touring the Upper West region, President Akufo-Addo spoke extensively on his vision to transform the economy of the country and singled out his flagship agriculture programme-Planting for Food and Jobs as a key determinant of making the country food self-sufficient. He expressed the hope that by the end of his four-year tenure, one million farmers would have been registered.

In a bid to modernise the sector, the President indicated that planting materials, fertilizer and extension officers had been made available to farmers. However, reports reaching the B&FT suggests that maize production could suffer a setback because subsidized fertilizer meant for the maize farmers has been impounded since some miscreants tried diverting the product to neighbouring Burkina Faso, and has consequently remained locked up of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) in the Upper West region depriving farmers of the input to improve yields.

Smuggling of the product to Burkina Faso is not new to Ghanaians since this has been occurring ever since subsidized fertilizer was introduced in 1998. Hence, we do not see why the product should be locked up and denied to farmers who need it urgently to improve maize yields.

Since this problem has been with us for years, by now we should have developed measures to counter efforts by a few profiteers who want to reap a windfall from a product subsidized by government. We believe this problem is not being tackled as it should be because why is it that subsidized fertilizer always finds its way to Burkina Faso and we are unable to root out the problem? Probably, there is a ring of smugglers who are able to influence their way through and in the process, compromise officials along the way why the problem keeps resurfacing.

Government cannot be subsidizing farm inputs like fertilizer, only to be ferried across the border to be sold on the open market. Such culprits must be named and shamed to dissuade them from the practice, otherwise efforts being made to modernize agriculture production will continue to falter.

Therefore, we need to find all possible means to stem the tide of smuggling of this crucial farm input.