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Regional News of Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Source: Michael Oberteye

Minister, MOFA petitioned over Yilo MCE’s alleged interference in Farmers’ Day awards


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The Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfuor and the Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, have been petitioned to investigate alleged abuse of power and interference by the Yilo Krobo Municipal Chief Executive in the 2019 farmers’ day celebrations.

The two-page document is all about 35th edition of the national farmers’ day awards and the call for fair play to award only deserving and hardworking farmers, contrary to political interference to favour undeserving farmers.

Mr. Ebenezer Tetteh Kupualor is alleged to have interfered in the selection process for this year’s farmers’ day celebrations marked on Friday, 6th December 2019, by dropping some 11 names out of the 15 awardees presented by the technical staff to the MCE through the Municipal Director of Agriculture, Mr. Daniel Oduro, adding, that the award winners presented by the MCE had no profiles with the Department of Agriculture.

“On the 5th of December, 2019, we were shocked to receive a list of 15 awardees of which only four were from the original list,” part of the petition read.

The petition dated December 9, 2019 is signed by the 33, entire technical staff who are Agric Extension Agents of the Yilo Krobo Municipal Department of Agriculture.

The Yilo Krobo Farmers’ Day Awards held at Boti saw a total of 19 awards being presented on the day with Georgina Awuni, a 32 year-old farmer from Huhunya winning the overall best farmer with 20 acres of maize, 30 acres of cassava, 3 acres of palm tree, 2 acres of plantain, 3 acres of cocoyam, 15 sheep, 20 goats, 50 local fowls, 30 exotic fowls and 1 acre each of yam, okra, pepper and mango.

For her prize, she received a refrigerator, 20 pieces of roofing sheet, 10 pieces of machetes, 2 knapsack sprayers, 2 pairs of wellington boots, a wheel barrow, a full piece GTP clothe, a radio set, a wall clock and a certificate.

The petitioners, citing allegations of political bias recalled a similar incident in 2018 where Mr. Kupualor allegedly attempted dropping names of farmers perceived to belong to the opposition NDC in favour of other farmers.

“It is sad to note that last year in 2018, the MCE did a similar thing and four names were released to replace four others perceived to be NDC members,” said the staff adding that the team had to do a lot of consultation for the names to be added as a compromise instead of replacing others.

The staff fear that the actions of the assembly chief if not checked could result in a “lack of trust between the farmers and field staff, major negative impact on government’s planting for food and jobs programme, threats on the lives of farmers as disgruntled farmers could attack them,” among other concerns.

The petitioners who also said the interference could affect their work, in their appeal for urgent steps to deal with the problem said, “We therefore express our concern over the unwarranted interference which if not dealt with could become a canker that is going to affect our work on the field next year.”

The petitioners attached the nomination list, score sheet and selected award winners to back their petition.

Mr. Ebenezer Tetteh Kupualor is alleged to have threatened the technical team with his supposed political powers, a threat the team believes the MCE should be held responsible for should “anything happen to them.”

“He insisted that if we refuse to use the list he had provided, he would show us that he is a politician,” one of the listed allegations sighted by this reporter alleged. “The staff and our families feel threatened by these utterances and should anything happen to any of us, he should be held responsible.”

A written assurance, the team demands, must be undertaken to assure staff and their families that the MCE will not use the NPP party’s apparatus to attack them.

The petitioners who want the minister and agric director to intervene by calling the president’s appointee to order, threatened to disrespect the MCE by disregarding his orders and only take instructions from the District Coordinating Director. This they attributed to the loss of credibility and respect for the assembly chief.

The document referenced Mr. Kupualor’s defense for his actions where he allegedly insisted he dropped the names based on his background checks which indicated that those he dropped belonged to the NDC.

The staff are therefore demanding a new criteria, if any, to guide the department of agriculture to award only NPP farmers during an NPP regime and vice versa.

Regretting what it calls attempts by the government appointee to run down efforts of the agric minister to “change the fortunes of the country,” despite their [technical team’s] support, the staff are thus calling on the eastern regional director of agriculture to liaise with the regional minister, the minister of local government and the agric minister to intervene to prevent any adverse effects the MCE’s actions might have on government flagship programmes such as the planting for food and jobs.
A source at the DOA said though the petitioners wanted to include the agric minister in the petition, the regional minister, Eric Kwakye Darfuor prevailed upon them not to do so.

One of the alleged affected farmers, Mr. Jonas Nomo accused the MCE of bias, suspecting that his open membership with the opposition NDC led to his disqualification.

The disgruntled farmer who cultivates various crops as well as rears several livestock believes he deserved the award that was “wrongfully” taken from him and others and given to preferred farmers of the “powers that be”.

“My information is that I won the best farmer award,” said Mr. Numo. “The agric officials visited my farm and after the assessment, I was declared the overall best farmer and the list was presented to the MCE but he struck out the names of 11 of us and replaced them with farmers of his choice.”

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