The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has with immediate effect suspended nine Municipal and District Assemblies in four northern regions from engaging in the retail haulage and distribution of the Government’s subsidised fertilizers 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 rest are Sissala East and West Districts of the Upper West Region. The Ministry has, therefore, directed all companies contracted to supply the inputs to beneficiary farmers in these affected districts to cease forthwith, from dealing with the various retail outlets and deal directly with the respective Municipal and District Directorates of Agriculture.
The decision was reached last week after an exhaustive meeting between the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto and his colleague ministers from the Northern, Upper East and West Regions. The ban has been necessitated by constant reports of infractions, misappropriations and alleged smuggling of subsidized fertilizers to neighbouring countries.
The directives have subsequently been communicated to all fertilizer 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 fertilizers earmarked for the above-mentioned district 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,” Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto indicated. The Minister pointed out that the move has become necessary as a stop-gap measure to curb the activities of fertilizer smuggling and ensure the equitable distribution of the inputs to farmers.
Therefore, all beneficiary farmers are expected to pick their inputs directly from the District Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and not from retailers designated by the supplying companies. He said the directives did not apply to fertilizers which were 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 the court once investigations are concluded.
Meanwhile, the Ministry wishes to clarify media reports on the indefinite suspension of one of the suppliers by name Demeter, following breaches of the modalities in the supply and distribution of the inputs. The report 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 action of the company only amounted to breaches of the rules and regulations governing the implementation of the programme. Per the modalities, waybill covering all fertilizers 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, the management of Demeter Ghana Limited failed to comply with this modality though there are no evidence of attempted smuggling.