Government’s fertiliser subsidy programme in the Upper West region is in limbo as farmers in the region and distributors tasked to ensure the regular supply of say they have run out of stock.
The fertiliser subsidy programme was first introduced in June 2008 by the John Kufuor government, covering three types of inorganic fertiliser, Sulphate of Ammonia, Urea and Compound fertiliser.
The programme was designed as in intervention meant to help increase food production at the peak of the global financial, food and energy crisis that was adversely affecting poor countries.
However, this programme, together with the many others introduced to boost the Agric sector have not exactly achieved expected results.
Speaking at his first budget presentation in Parliament, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta said, “In 2017, the Ministry will continue the fertiliser subsidy programme to help increase the productivity of farmers.
“To this effect, we intend to distribute nationwide, an expected 180,000 metric tonnes of subsidised fertiliser [to farmers].”
The programme, he said, will improve productivity, help achieve food security and crop profitability for farmers.
But according to Joy News’ Upper West correspondent Rafiq Salam, farmers in the region who are to benefit from the 36,000 metric tonnes earmarked for them are complaining.
He said two weeks after the distribution started, the farmers are complaining of not being able to get the commodity to use on their farms as the distributors tell them they have run out of stock.
There are fears the fertilisers have been smuggled out for sale at higher prices in neighbouring countries where they do not enjoy such subsidies.
Ironically, Sissala West and East which are the hardest hit by the shortage have been the food basket of the country for the past decade.
Out of fears that the development would derail government’s efforts at achieving its aim with the programme, the Regional Minister Sulemana Alhassan called an emergency meeting to address the issue.
In attendance was the Deputy Regional Minister, Municipal and District Chief Executives, regional and district agricultural officers as well as the distributors of the fertilisers.
The Minister charged all stakeholders to look at the bigger picture of serving the people and not seek their own selfish interest.
According to the distributors at the meeting, the quota given them was not enough and they have run out of stock, but the Deputy Regional Minister debunked this saying they farmers in the villages have complained of not seeing the impact of what has been distributed so far.