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Counterfeiting, illegal trade of agri-inputs causing financial loss to farmers – Minister

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George Oduro

Counterfeiting, and the illegal trade of agricultural inputs in Ghana is causing financial loss to farmers, the Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, George Oduro has said.

He said the trend has assumed unimaginable proportions causing great financial loss to farmers, legitimate businesses and environmental challenges.

The Deputy Minister was speaking at the Annual Hub and Regulatory workshop organized by CropLife Ghana in Accra, under the theme: “Promoting the Spray Service Provider (SSP), Concept as a component of Pesticides Risk Mitigation.”

He noted that the negative practice should not be tolerated in any form and urged the Plant Protection Directorate of the Ministry for Food and Agriculture (MoFA), to collaborate with the relevant agencies like Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), the police and National Security to strengthen efforts to name and shame organisations behind what he called unpatriotic acts.

To remedy this canker, Oduro recommended the regulation on harmonization of pesticides adopted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in Ouagadougou, which recommends the establishment of a committee to regulate pesticides use in West Africa.

He said MoFA in collaboration with the EPA, has trained over 200 Pesticide Inspectors in 2017, while further training programmes have been scheduled.for more officers.

“These pesticide inspectors will be stationed in the districts and farming areas to monitor agri-input shops and markets.”

The Deputy Minister further appealed to the agrochemical industry for time to finalize issues regarding the abolishment of the five per cent import tax on agriculture inputs as the Ministry is in discussions with the Ministry of Finance to resolve the issue.

The President of CropLife Ghana, William Kotey  in his opening remarks indicated that farmers are faced with challenges such as inadequate knowledge on products, inefficient import controls leading to the entry of illegal and poor quality agricultural inputs on the market.

“The consequences of these have continued to lead to threats to human health and the environment. The end result being that, users, most of whom are farmers do not achieve the expected results in terms of crop yield leading to loss of income,” he added.

He assured participants of CropLife’s commitment in fighting counterfeiting of agri-inputs in Ghana by increasing farmers’ awareness through the SSP and other advocacy programmes.

The Deputy Minister additionally commended CropLife Ghana for its SSP Concept which equips people with skills to professionally administer agri-inputs on farms.

The aim of the workshop is to expose new trends and products to regulators, stakeholders, while sharing new knowledge and technical development in the agriculture sector.

It also sought ways to mitigate hazards caused by pesticides and provide farmers with safety measures.

By Pamela Ofori-Boateng

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