Dr. Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, has asked the Upper West Regional and district directors of Agriculture to implement pragmatic measures to prevent the smuggling of agricultural produce to neighbouring countries.
The Ministry, he said, was alarmed by the reports of increasing smuggling of huge quantities of food to countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali to the disadvantage of citizens in Ghana.
Dr. Akoto said this in Wa during his working visit to the Region to interact with stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to ascertain their challenges, and also to announce the government’s intervention in the sector.
Smuggling of food produce had become a national concern in recent times with the Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery raising similar concerns during the Upper West regional commemoration of the Farmers’ Day in Nandom over the weekend.
“The point is that we are the managers of the agricultural economy of this country and have to be proactive on that,” Dr Akoto said. “Those district directors on the borders, please open your eyes, not only your ears.”
He explained that the Government used the taxpayers’ money to subsidise fertiliser for the farmers to produce under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme.
Thus, the people in the country must be the beneficiaries of the outcome of that programme and not nationals of other countries.
The Government, the Minister stated, had signed an Executive Instrument against the export of raw food produce.
The Upper West Region had been noted for the smuggling of the subsidised PFJ fertilizer, he said and described the region as the “fertiliser smuggling capital.”
Dr. Akoto, however, said with the substantial reduction of the subsidy, the miscreants had turned their attention to smuggling farm produce, which was even more dangerous.
The government was aware of the constraints of farmers, especially in the area of mechanisation and was working hard to counter those constraints, he assured.
“Government is doing whatever it can to bring in machinery. As we speak, over the last six months or so we have been clearing machines, including harvesters, from the port,” Dr Akoto explained.
Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, the Upper West Regional Minister, commended Dr Akoto for his support to farmers in the area since becoming the Minister of Agriculture, saying this had resulted in a monumental increase in food crop production, through the PFJ programme.
He said though the poor rainfall pattern affected farmers in the 2022 cropping season, initial figures from the regional department of agriculture indicated that there was abundant food in the area.
“For us in the Upper West Region, we see you as a saviour because the policies of His Excellency, the President, which you are championing, are yielding the necessary dividends and we believe strongly that if this trend continues it will go to improve not only the economy but the social life of the people of the Upper West Region,” Dr. Salih explained.