The Upper West Regional Minister Dr Hafiz Bin Salih has visited Leo in the Province of Sissili in Burkina Faso to seek collaboration to combat fertilizer smuggling from Ghana to Burkina Faso.
He requested that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs) fertilizer that would be seized by Burkinabe authorities should be shared among their local farmers free of charge.
The call for collaboration to deal with fertiliser smuggling in neighbouring countries was on the back of recent reports of wanton smuggling, misappropriation and infractions regarding distribution of fertiliser to Ghanaian farmers.
The growing menace has forced Ghanaian authorities to suspend the distribution and haulage of fertilizers to local farmers in nine districts in northern Ghana including Sissala East Municipality and Sissala West District.
Despite several concerns raised over the temporal ban, the government has justified that it was to protect farmers and ensure the success of the PFJs programme.
Dr Bin-Salih said, "We are here to interact with you but we have a number of concerns, one is the fact that a lot of fertilizers from Ghana are being smuggled into Burkina Faso and this is a worrying situation to the government and the people of Ghana".
"Our presence is to inform you so that we will collaborate with your security to help us fight and stop it". "We have pictures and reports of the presence of the products being sold on the markets here [in Burkina Faso] but these are not supposed to be sold".
"Our Minister of Agriculture in Ghana has gotten in touch and has made correspondence with his colleague Minister in Burkina Faso and signalled that we are here to ensure that they are fully put into the picture so, wherever, they find PFJ fertilizer in Burkina Faso, they should seize and share them freely to their farmers as they are smuggled products".
"We do in Ghana, when we seize smuggled products, we share them and appeal to you to do so".
A description of the branded fertilizer was shown to the Burkinabe authorities.
The fertilizer has been branded in 25-kilogramme weight with unique yellow colours and inscription of PFJ meaning 'Planting for food and jobs'
"This is my official visit to Leo and requested with their kind permission to go round and visit some of the shops in the market and see things for ourselves, but the request to visit the shops was turned down by the Burkinabe officials citing the need to inform stakeholders before such observation could be permitted," Dr Bin-Salih said.
He added that the insurgence of terrorist activities in parts of Burkina Faso required the two countries collaborated in the area of security.
Welcoming the Ghanaian delegation, the Secretary attached to the High Commissioner of Leo Mr Kone Yaya said the Commissioner was away but pledged to support and help the call for collaboration.
He said farmers in Burkina Faso equally enjoyed some subsidy but smuggling was also a problem and appealed to the Ghanaian delegation to allow the two trade and agriculture ministries to collaborate and have a joint control programmes.
The Custom Officer in Charge of Douane, Mr Traore T. Cyprian, told the delegation that sometimes, the officers find the fertilizers being brought into their country from Ghana.
"Sometimes they do see some of them but it is not on a regular basis and when they see them, they seize them, they are then fined to pay high taxes on them and we let them enter once they pay the fines," he added: "But, henceforth, we shall collaborate but it needs the attention of all stakeholders".
On the request by the Ghanaian delegation to visit the market, he said, "All the directors including Director of Agriculture and customs were not aware".
He added that they would need to inform their top hierarchy otherwise the traders might see their visit as "coming to control them," and requested that they reschedule the visit to another time.
The Ghanaian delegation was made up of the National Director of Crops at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Seth Osei Akoto, Mr Francis Ennor, and Regional Director of Agriculture for Upper East, Mr Emmanuel Sasu Yeboah Upper West Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr Iddi Musah Representative of The Upper East Regional Minister.
The rest were COP Peter Ndekugri, the Deputy Upper West Regional Police Commander; Mr Karim Nanyua, Sissala East Municipal Chief Executive; Mr Mohammed Zakaria Bakor, District Chief Executive for Sissala West District.
The Burkinabe side included Mr Napon Akimou, Mr Voda Alphonse, Mr Ibouldo Moctar, Mr Ziba Asseni Mr Oudragou Issif, Mr Traore T Cyprian and Mr kone Yaya.