Mr Francis Ennor, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has blamed some commercial farmers in the Region for the shortage of the subsidized fertilizer under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme.
He said the PFJ programme was ideal for peasant farmers, “It is not for everybody. Those who cultivate one hectare and below, are the people Government wants to support per their food production, they contribute a lot.
“If a farmer cultivates one acre and cannot afford fertilizer, it is understandable and this is what the PFJ fertilizer is meant for. If you are a commercial farmer and you want to enjoy the PFJ fertilizer, write to the Minister through us, and you would be considered,” he said.
Mr Ennor who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Bolgatanga concerning the shortage of fertilizer for farmers across the Region, emphasized that most commercial farmers did not utilise the opportunity to get the subsidized fertilizer under the PFJ programme.
He said rice farmers in the Builsa South District were supported under the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) last year, “The project bought the PFJ subsidized fertilizers for the farmers to use and payback later.
“Fortunately the rains were good and they had good harvest and market for their produce, but some of them refused to pay to enable the project buy more and yet they are in the media calling for Government to bring fertilizer.”
According to the Director, if rice farmers in Builsa South are crying for fertilizers, they are not fair to the Government and Ghanaians.
He dared farmers in the area who enjoyed the fertilizer last year to provide evidence of payment for last year’s supplies, “Millions of Ghana cedis they have not paid and expect Government to supply the fertilizers again.”
Mr Ennor said peasant farmers often paid outright while commercial farmers were allowed to pay after harvest and sales, yet they would not pay, “This is not good, and they wouldn’t say the truth.”
He said the shortage of fertilizer was a big challenge, adding that the Region had received some PFJ fertilizer, “Some were sent to Paga and the rest to the Bawku area, but the fertilizer we have are in the open market.”
The Director said the Region was expecting ten articulator trucks of fertilizer from some of the companies which signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Government to supply fertilizer.
He appealed to members of the public to be vigilant and ensure that the fertilizer would not cross the borders of the Region, saying “The little fertilizer that comes will be able to sustain crop production in the Region.”
When the GNA contacted some commercial farmers in the Builsa South District, they conceded that some of them did not pay for last year’s fertilizers supplied under SAPIP.
Mr Richard Akoka, a commercial farmer at the Fumbisi Rice Valley, noted that “The fertilizer shortage is nationwide, and so the fact that some farmers could not pay for supplies last year cannot be attributed to the nationwide shortage this year.”