Pay debt owed fertilizer suppliers – Eric Opoku to government
Ranking Member on the Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee, Eric Opoku, has called on the government to immediately settle debts owed fertilizer suppliers in the country.
Suppliers of fertilizer for the Planting for Food and Jobs programme have had to halt distribution since April 2021 due to the debt owed to them by the government.
Although the Finance Ministry has instructed the Controller and Accountant General to release about GHS250 million to defray the cost, the suppliers are yet to be paid.
Speaking to Citi News, Eric Opoku said the situation could spell doom for farmers, as most of them are already complaining about the impact of the lack of the product.
“I have raised this issue on the floor of Parliament several times. Normally, what they [government] do is that, they award the contract and the contractors supply the fertilizer, and then it takes a long time for them to be paid. Sometimes, it takes more than a year of complaints.”
“The issue is that if they are not paid, it will be difficult for them to mobilize resources to continue their operations. So, the Ministry of Finance and government must understand the plight of the suppliers,” he said.
Several farmers in parts of the country are struggling to access fertilizers to increase yield.
In Sissala in the Upper West Region, for instance, the shortage of fertilizer in the area is adversely affecting farmers, leaving large fields of maize turning yellowish a few weeks after planting.
They are thus pleading with the government to take steps to bring fertilizer to the area immediately.
Recently, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana also lamented the growing incidents of fertilizer smuggling in the country.
The Head of Programmes and Advocacy for the association, Charles Nyaaba, said the smuggling is prevalent in the northern part of the country.
He said most of the affected areas have consistently suffered as a result of the situation, expressing concern that in some instances, local authorities aid in the smuggling of subsidized fertilizer meant for local farmers to neighbouring countries, including the Ivory Coast.
“The smuggling is very serious especially when you look at border towns like Sissala West, Kasena Nanka, Bawku and Garu. These were the same areas that we experienced serious smuggling last year. We have found out that there are instances where city officials and people working with the District Department of Agriculture compromise their roles and allow these smugglers to cart the fertilizer across,” he said.
He said the smuggling caused a huge shortage of fertilizer in northern Ghana.