Our yesterday’s front page story under the banner headline “Fertiliser for farmers under PFJs: 50,000 bags smuggled out……last year to neighbouring countries” cannot pass without comments.
The story which was attributed to the Director of Crops at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Mr Seth Osei-Akoto painted a disturbing trend of smuggling of subsidised fertilisers to neighbouring countries.
The fertilisers meant for farmers under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs), were said to have been smuggled across to neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger and Mali, by unscrupulous people including officials of MOFA.
According to Mr Osei-Akoto, some known officials of the Ministry are engaged in aiding the smugglers to send the subsidised fertiliser and other farm inputs across the border into neighbouring countries.
What is worse is that some unscrupulous persons have turned the smuggling of fertilisers into a vocation where they hire donkey carts to brazenly smuggle the farm input unaccompanied across the border.
These activities, according to Mr Osei-Akoto is affecting the government’s flagship programme and a drain on the economy.
“The government cannot continue to spend such hard currency on farm inputs meant for Ghanaian small holder farmers, only to be smuggled across neighbouring countries by some unscrupulous persons for their selfish gains,” he said.
He warned those who are engaged in such negative activities to desist from the act or risk prosecution.
“Let us all stop engineering the smuggling of the items by being vigilant. The fertiliser subsidy is meant for farmers in Ghana and not those outside,” he emphasised.
The Ghanaian Times finds it very disturbing and unacceptable that over 50,000 bags of the subsidised fertilisers were smuggled out of the country last year.
The question we ask is where are our law enforcement agencies at our borders? What are the District and Regional Security Councils as well as the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) officials doing in the area? What about the MOFA officials in the area who are in-charge of distributing the fertilisers?
These are questions begging for answers.
We are worried because the rainy season has begun and farmers are going to plant crops and would need the fertilisers for the season.
It is sad that with all the efforts that government is making to boost agriculture, few individuals are sabotaging the programme by smuggling a vital input like fertiliser out of the country.
We urge the government as well as law enforcement agencies to clamp down on the smugglers heavily so as to stop their activities.
We must not allow few individuals to derail the PFJs because of their selfish gains. They must be chased and every means necessary used to stop them from smuggling the fertilisers to neighbouring countries before they cause anymore harm to the PFJ initiative.