Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture
Farmers in Tamale and its surrounding communities in the Northern Region have complained of shortage of coupons for the acquisition of government subsidised fertiliser in the area.
Reports reaching the Ghanaian Times also indicate that there are complaints of shortage of coupons from farmers in the Zabzugu district, Gushiegu and Nanumba North municipalities.
However the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has refuted the claims of the farmers saying 100 million coupons have been allocated to the Northern Regional Directorate of (MoFA) for farmers and that the ministry has not received any report about shortage of coupons.
Mr. Mohammed Adam Nashiru, Chairman of the Northern Farmers Association who complained about the shortage said that the lack of the coupon was a serious challenge for farmers in the region.
He maintained that the shortage of the coupons if not addressed immediately could affect food production particularly maize.
Mr. Nashiru made the complaint at a roundtable discussion on Wednesday in Tamale organised by Zamlanyili Co-operative Food Farmers and Marketing Society (ZOCOFFARMS).
The meeting which was sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund was meant to solicit views on the challenges confronting smallholder farmers in the area.
Mr. Nashiru mentioned that last week farmers in the metropolis queued for long hours for coupons for fertilisers at the premises of MOFA but were not supplied due to the shortage.
Mr. Nashiru indicated that lack of access to coupons for subsidised fertiliser could defeat the purpose of the government Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) policy.
He therefore appealed to the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), to as matter of urgency, take steps to address the issue as soon as possible.
Mr. Nashiru lauded the government for the implementation of the PFJ but warned that factors such as shortages of fertiliser and other farm inputs are likely to affect the policy.
"As we speak now colleague farmers are searching for coupons to buy subsided fertiliser but cannot get it," he stated.
He alleged that some extension officers in-charge of the coupons were diverting the coupons to non-farmers.
Mr. Francis Kou, Tamale Metropolitan Extension Officer admitted the shortage of the coupons in the metropolis.
He explained that the metropolitan directorate of the MoFA reported the shortage to the regional office and was awaiting the response.
When contacted on telephone, the Public Relations Officer of MoFA, Mr. Bagbara Tanko said the ministry has allocated 100 million coupons to the Northern Regional Directorate of Agriculture for farmers.
Mr. Tanko told the Ghanaian Times that 90 per cent of the coupons allocated to the region have been distributed to metropolitan, municipal and district directors of agriculture for onward allocation to farmers through various agricultural extension officers.
The PRO denied any shortage of coupons in the region adding that "there is no shortage of coupons and there has been no report of shortage from farmers from the region to the ministry".
Alhaji Nashiru Kadri, BUSAC consultant urged farmers to form strong associations to fight for their rights.