Agric Ministry clears air on missing fertilizer saga

Business News of Sunday, 30 December 2018

Source: thebftonline.com

2018-12-30

Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has refuted claims of loss of fertilizers worth $12 million under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) through smuggling, attributed to a report from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs.

According to the Ministry, the information making rounds is “factually inaccurate and does not represent the true information presented to the Committee by the sector Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto,” during a budget hearing.

In a statement responding to the issue, it said the Minister indicated that over the years the country had not been able to quantify in monetary terms the actual losses incurred as a result of fertilizers being smuggled outside Ghana to neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso and Togo.

The Minister is said to have explained that under the current administration, efforts had been made to quantify the cost which amounted to about $12 million, which translates into about 50,000 metric tonnes.

“It is therefore factually inaccurate; the impression being created through the publications that the said amount covers a specific year under review or strictly limited to the PFJ programme.

It is instructive to note that under the current administration, stringent efforts have been made to curtail the unfortunate incidents which had become the norm in previous years.”

The statement said the Ministry, since 2017 under the current government, put in place measures to arrest the situation contracting the services of the International Federation of Fertilizer Societies (IFFS) to conduct investigations into the activities of fertilizer smuggling and assess the devastating impact it was having on the economy and agriculture in particular.

“The IFFS investigations subsequently revealed the hallowing impact the unscrupulous activities of these cartels where having on the economy of the country. They made several recommendations to the Ministry to help curb the menace some of which were rolled out in the 2018.”

It said through vigilance and comprehensive monitoring in 2018, several arrests have been made and investigations are currently ongoing.

References can be made of some staff of the Sunyani Municipal Assembly who are under investigation for the disappearance of several bags of subsidized fertilizers which had been stored at a warehouse in Sunyani.

Additionally, one of the opposition party’s chairman for Sissala East was recently arrested for engaging in similar offence. The case is currently before the National Headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Ghana Police Service.

Also, in the middle of this year, about 50 trucks of fully loaded fertilizers, which were allegedly being smuggled to neighbouring Burkina Faso, were also impounded in the Upper West Region.

The Ministry reiterated that all efforts are being made to nip the vicious activities of these fertilizer smuggling cartels in the bud.

“We therefore appeal to the general public to cooperate with us by reporting any act of suspicion for the necessary action to be taken.”

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