By Anthony Apubeo, GNA
Bolgatanga, June 11, GNA – Two articulated trucks, each loaded with 2,000 bags of 25 Kilograms of NPK fertilizers meant for government flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs) have been impounded in the Upper East Region.
The trucks, with registration numbers, AS 1300 V and GT 3181 J, were impounded at the Paga border in the Kassena-Nankana West District by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority on June 9, 2019 when they allegedly attempted to smuggle the inputs into Burkina Faso.
The drivers of the two long vehicles have been detained while the trucks loaded with the fertilizers transported back to Bolgatanga.
Briefing the media in Bolgatanga, Madam Paulina Patience Abayage, the Upper East Regional Minister, said according to the invoice accompanying the items, the fertilizer was supposed to be transported to Navrongo and not Paga and beyond.
She revealed that before one could legally transport the branded fertilizer to a particular region or district, certain certifications must be followed including endorsement by the Regional Minister, and the Regional and District Directors of the Department Agriculture. However, none of these processes were followed by the owners.
As part of measures to curb smuggling this year, the Regional Minister stated that government had branded the fertilizer with the policy name ‘PFJ’ as the logo on the bags, adding that 50kg of the fertilizers were supplied to Southern farmers while 25kg bags were used for the Northern part.
The Regional Minister indicated that it was disheartening to see the efforts of government to elevate the extreme poverty that confronted the vulnerable, especially in the rural areas being truncated and sabotaged by certain unscrupulous individuals or groups.
Madam Abayage disclosed that the Director of the Planting for Food and Jobs, and the Minister for Agriculture, have agreed that the impounded fertilizer should be distributed freely to vulnerable people who were into farming, including women, widows and orphans in the Region and added that the owners will bear the full cost of the fertilizer.
The Regional Minister noted that the drivers would be granted bail to go and bring the owners of the fertilizers to face the full rigours of the law.
This, she added, would serve as deterrent to others and warned that the security services have been trained on how to detect uncertified documents accompanying fertilizers.
The Regional Minister expressed gratitude to the security services for the vigilance and cooperation in identifying suspects and bringing them to book.
Mr Francis Ennor, the Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture, said the lands in the Region were so depleted that when fertilizer was not applied during farming, it would not produce good yields.
He said had the fertilizer successfully crossed the border, it would have greatly affected the implementation of the social intervention programme in the Region.
The fertilizer subsidy under the government's planting for food and jobs was introduced to enable rural and vulnerable farmers have easy access to fertilizer to increase crop yields by paying 50 percent of the cost while the farmers took the remaining 50 percent.