The Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Bin-Salih, has initiated steps to halt the smuggling of fertiliser meant for the Planting for Food and Jobs, (PFJ) programme in the Upper West Region, into neighbouring Burkina Faso.
Consequently, the minister has asked for collaboration between the border regions of Ghana and Burkina to end the canker.
Dr Salih made the request during a negotiation meeting with authorities at Leo in Burkina Faso last Saturday, on ending the illegal smuggling of fertiliser.
The minister was accompanied by stakeholders in the agriculture sector in the region and these included the Director of Crops at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Upper West Regional Director of Agriculture.
“Government and the intended beneficiaries of the fertiliser in Ghana are overly worried about the insistent smuggling of the product into Burkina Faso because the poor farmer is deprived of their due and this goes a long way to affect agricultural activities in the country”, he stated.
He, therefore, called for a stronger collaboration with Ghana’s security operatives at the border to curb the issue.
Dr Salih explained that the subsidised fertiliser had a unique branding for easy identification and said his outfit had pictures showing the products on display at markets in Burkina Faso to the detriment of the local farmer in Ghana.
Touching on security, Dr Salih hinted that Ghana had taken steps to beef up security at the borders and it was necessary for the two regions to collaborate also in the regard by sharing information on security to offset possible surprise attacks from unscrupulous persons.
For his part, the Secretary to the Leo District High Commission, Mr Kone Yahaya, said the Burkinabe government was also implementing similar project to support agriculture and had also been faced with similar issues of smuggling.
He was, therefore, optimistic that the collaboration would be a step in the right direction to curtail the menace and suggested that the Burkina Faso Minister of Trade should network with the Ghanaian counterpart to form a joint control unit to fight the canker of fertiliser smuggling.
Dr Salih later joined Sissala East for its Municipal Security Committee Meeting at Tumu, where he chastised the two border districts of Sissala West and East for not making any arrest of persons who smuggled fertiliser into Burkina Faso.
“It is unfortunate that this issue has assumed national attention and yet security officials in these two areas have not been able to arrest a single person who tried to smuggle these items out of the country. The fertiliser is not flown to Burkina Faso, we all know that they passed through these routes to Burkina Faso so how come we have not arrested anyone”, he queried.
Dr Salih revealed that the state recently confiscated about 200 bags of smuggled fertiliser and distributed same to farmers free of charge, and noted that last year alone, the nation lost about $12million to smuggling of the product.
He said such activities militated against the government’s agricultural projects like the Planting for Food and Jobs which was intended to make
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, Leo-Burkina Faso