The Upper West Regional Minister Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih has reaffirmed government’s commitment towards ending the smuggling of government subsidized fertilizers particularly under the Planting for Food and Jobs PFJ program through the region.
He said directives have been given to the security apparatus in the region to ensure that they remain on high alert at the various check points and border towns to fish out perpetuators of the crime.
Speaking in an interview with Radio Ghana, the Minister extolled the positive economic and social impact of the Planting for Foods and Jobs for the people of the Upper West Region notwithstanding the smuggling of fertilizers.
After the launch of the Planting for Food and Jobs program in 2017, a total of 29,349 benefitted from the program. Last year the figure jumped to over 117 thousand farmers.
By the close of the planting season this year, the Department of Agriculture in the Upper West Region estimates that a total of 200 thousand farmers in the region would be registered under the program.
The Upper West Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih explained that this will help ensure food security in the country.
He said per reports from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance, Ghana has not imported maize since the inception of the program.
Dr. Bin Salih said there are deliberate attempts to denigrate the economic and social impact of the PFJ policies on the country. “Go to any of our markets in the region, you will see these products there; maize, rice and soya beans in abundance,” he added.
The minister said he had received worrying reports of individuals from his party engaged in the smuggling of fertilizers.
He warned that when such an individual is apprehended, he or she will be made to face the law without any semblance of political bias.
“A few weeks ago, I was here [in the office] with my security commanders and I told them, they should just arrest one [party person engaged in fertilizer smuggling] for me. We will use that person as a deterrent; we will prosecute,” he stressed.
He said if party faithful are engaged in the smuggling of fertilizers, they are running down the image of the government, thus the need to bring them to order. The Minister said “although the fertilizer smuggling remains prevalent, there is every indication that this year, the situation is far better than the previous years”.
The Minister, Dr. Bin Salih pledged to use his position as a leader to unite the region. He disclosed that a meeting with the Upper West Parliamentary Caucus is in the offing. He said the meeting would allow both sides of the political divide to unite and push government to bring the needed development to the region.
He called on CSOs, NGOs, Traditional and Religious Leaders to help grow the region.
Story by Mark Smith