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Business News of Saturday, 19 June 2021


Fertiliser Subsidy Programme: Prioritise farmers - GARDJA

The Minister for Agriculture has been advised to ensure that farmers benefit from the  programme The Minister for Agriculture has been advised to ensure that farmers benefit from the programme

The Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) has appealed to the Minister for Agriculture to prioritise a lot of farmers in the implementation of Government’s Fertiliser Subsidy Programme.

The group asked for proper coordination of the management of the entire subsidy scheme (from fertilizer import bidding contracts to distribution) with the existing farmer groups to ensure that the right beneficiaries are getting them.

Notable farmer groups are Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association, Ghana National Farmers and Fishermen Association, among others, which have members across the country and well-structured management systems at the regional and district levels.

A petition signed by the President of GARDJA, Richmond Frimpong said there was the need to set up a committee to review the operations of the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme since it was launched in 2008. The committee should evaluate the modus operandi of the scheme and make appropriate recommendations for changes for the benefit of ordinary farmers.

GARDJA urged the Minister to work with the Minister for Interior and Attorney General to bring those who have been involved in the smuggling and theft of subsidized fertilisers to book, so this serves as a deterrent to others.

Mr Frimpong said GARDJA spent latter part of 2020 and early part of 2021, gathering perspectives from farmers across the country on what their major challenges that need attention were. Chief among them was the issue of fertiliser subsidy, which has emerged top on the list of farmers’ major concerns.

He said, “We gather that annually, government allocates about 207 million Ghana Cedis for the scheme to import fertilisers, which are subsequently supposed to be sold to farmers at 50 per cent of the original market price. But the farmers say they are not benefiting, raising questions about where exactly the subsidized fertilisers go.

There is so much that we’ve heard in our engagements with farmers on why they are not benefitting from the scheme. Alleged corruption, poor management, outright stealing and smuggling are but a few of the factors.

We were shocked at recent disclosures by the Planting for Food and Jobs Secretariat that Ghana lost a whopping 120 million Ghana Cedis from unaccounted for subsidized fertilizers, diversion of coupons and smuggling in the 2017 and 2018 planting seasons alone.

This is obviously a threat to the sustainability of the fertilizer subsidy scheme and a threat to the nation’s food security as a whole.

Productivity on a lot of our farms remain low and that is obviously a source of worry. Increased application of fertilisers remains key if we will see better productivity on our farm fields,” he added.