Key agriculture sector stakeholders – including the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), International Budget Partnership (IBP) and the Chamber of Fertiliser Ghana – are calling for comprehensive audits to be conducted into government’s ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) subsidy policy.
The advocacy, according to the civil society organisations (CSOs), has become necessary after it was discovered that the agriculture flagship programme was plagued with several shortcomings – which intensified particularly during the 2021 and last year’s planting seasons.
An assessment carried out by PFAG on the 2022 PFJ implementation year established issues that dented the PFJ’s implementation reputation through budget non-credibility, poor quality seeds and fertiliser procured for the programme, submission of false claims, and late payment to fertiliser companies, among others.
PFAG whose members are key recipients of the subsidy policy, carried out the assessment to establish effectiveness of the implementation and its effect on beneficiary farmers.
Speaking to B&FT on the findings, Executive Director-PFAG, Dr. Charles Nyaaba, and Programmes Officer-IBP, Godson Aloryito, both said: “An audit of the fertiliser subsidy programme by the Ghana Audit Service is imperative to check the submission of false claims, and quality status of fertiliser and seeds supplied since 2017, among others”.
The audit, when conducted – the two organisations have indicated – will go a long way to improve future subsidy related programmes for the sector.
“It will also establish whether the programme has been running transparently for all these years and that farmers are the bigger winners of this policy,” the PFAG and IBP said.
In similar vein, the Chamber of Fertiliser Ghana has also called for audits of the PFJ to ascertain how positively the programme has fared throughout its years of implementation.
At a presser earlier this month, the Chamber’s president, Prince Akoto-Adepa, said it would be interesting to know how the policy has performed amid key challenges including smuggling, hoarding late payments and payment arrears which affected fertiliser delivery to farmers.
Indeed, government has already indicated its plans to discontinue the current PFJ fertiliser programme module and replace it with a more aggressive programme to ensure food security.
Speaking at the recent launch of a product under the Sustain Africa Initiative at Kpone in Tema, Minister of Agriculture Bryan Acheampong revealed that government, from next June, will roll out a five-year food security and availability plan to replace the PFJ.
Meanwhile, the value of food commodities produced under the PFJ programme up to 2021 was worth US$6.1billion. This, according to the minister, was made possible after government, through the ministry, invested some US$321million to procure seeds and fertilisers from 2017 to 2021.