Mr Salifu Issifu Kanton, the Executive Director of Community Development Alliance (CDA) Ghana, has called on citizens and farmers to actively involve themselves in the fight against fertilizer smuggling into neighbouring countries by unscrupulous individuals.
The call has become necessary as the war against fertilizer smuggling could not be won by officialdom alone, he said, unless people in society themselves willingly rise up and speak strongly against the illegal practice.
Mr Kanton made the call during a District Stakeholder’s Dialogue on Government Fertilizer Subsidy Programme, Challenges and Opportunities for Increased Agriculture Productivity in Ghana, held at Lambussie in the Lambussie District of Upper West Region.
He noted that agriculture holds the key to reducing poverty and underdevelopment in the Region and stressed that bad practices such as subsidised fertilizer smuggling did not only undermine the successful implementation of government social intervention programmes, but also contributed to deepening poverty among the people.
Despite introduction of several social interventions by government and development partners to support smallholder farmers in Ghana to reduce poverty, he said, the impact was little especially in the Upper West Region where poverty rather seemed to be increasing instead of decreasing with the interventions.
The fertilizer subsidy was one of the key interventions by Ghana government to reduce poverty but that the programme had not achieved much due to the massive smuggling, he said.
“All citizens have an oversight responsibility to ensure that the policy achieve the purpose for which it was intended to achieve”, he added.
“Massive smuggling can collapse the fertilizer subsidy programme and as farmers you should not keep quiet and allow few selfish business persons and influential individuals to collapse a policy that will benefit the poor masses.
The CDA Executive Director said based on hat the advocacy project was initiated with the goal of strengthening transparency and accountability mechanisms in the implementation of the programme to improve productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers in the Lambussie and Sissala West Districts.
He said the objective was to increase access to and use of subsidised fertilizer/inputs by smallholder farmers to boost food crop production in the two beneficiary districts through awareness creation within the seven month period.
Dr. Timothy D. Sindim, the Lambussie District Director of Agriculture, mentioned lack of cooperation from community members as one of the challenges hindering the fight against fertilizer smuggling in the district.
He proposed that exported fertilizer must be accompanied by an export certificate and urged citizens to request this from any vehicle loaded with fertilizer and suspected to be crossing Ghanaian borders.
He encouraged citizens to be vigilant with the small scale smugglers, saying that was even more prevalent in the district as they used motor tricycles to load them away under the guise of transporting them to their farms.
The District Stakeholder’s Dialogue which was on the theme: “Strengthening Citizen’s Oversight in the Implementation of the Government of Ghana Fertilizer Subsidy Programme for Improved Food Crop Productivity and Poverty Reduction in the Upper West Region” was organised by CDA Ghana with support from ADVANCE Ghana.