The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has with immediate effect suspended nine Municipal and District Assemblies in four northern regions from engaging in the retail, haulage and distribution of government’s subsidised fertiliser under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
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 others are Sissala East and West districts in the Upper West Region.
The ministry has directed all companies contracted to supply the inputs to beneficiary farmers in these affected districts to forthwith cease from dealing with the various retail outlets, and instead deal directly with the respective Municipal and District Directorates of Agriculture.
The decision was reached after an exhaustive meeting between the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and other ministers from the Northern, Upper East and West Regions.
According to the press secretariat of the ministry, the move was necessitated by constant reports of infractions, misappropriations and alleged smuggling of subsidised fertiliser to neighbouring countries.
The directives were subsequently communicated to all fertiliser dealers and suppliers operating with the ministry under the PFJ programme during a stakeholder meeting on Monday, in Accra.
Announcing the decision last week, the Minister of Food and Agriculture said: “Henceforth, all subsidised fertilier earmarked for the above-mentioned districts 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,” indicated Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto.
The minister pointed noted that the situation has become necessary as a stop-gap measure to curb the incidence of fertiliser smuggling and ensure equitable distribution of the inputs to farmers.
All beneficiary farmers of the programme are expected to collect their inputs directly from the District Directorate of the MoFA, and not from retailers designated by the supplying companies.
He said the directives do not apply to fertiliser that is already in stock, adding that suppliers who already have stocks at the various retail warehouses will be permitted to distribute them 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 programme are being investigated, and will be arraigned before court once investigations are concluded.
Meanwhile, the ministry clarified some reports on the indefinite suspension of one of the suppliers, by name Demeter, following modality breaches in supply and distribution of the inputs.
The reports had 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 company’s actions only amounted to breaches of the rules and regulations governing the programme’s implementation.”
Per the modalities, waybills covering all fertiliser 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, management of Demeter Ghana Limited failed to comply with this modality, but there is no evidence of attempted smuggling.