Francis Npong, Bimbila N/R
About ninety-four (94) farmers in the Nanumba North District Assembly have been dragged to court over GhC2.9 million.
This amount is said to be the total cost of fertilizers and farm inputs supply to these farmers by the ministry of agriculture under the government block farm project two years ago.
This came at the time the minister of Food and Agriculture Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi is advocating the stoppage of the government funding of agriculture as the ministry is subtle with huge debt under the block farm programme. The minister who recently proposed this when he met with the public account committee to answer questions relating to his ministry indicated that it was difficult recovering the money from farmers.
The culprits allegedly defaulted in payment in spite of the consistent reminders from the District Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture to repay.
The 94, who were served with the writ filed by the District Director of Agriculture Mr. Eugene Yelfaanibe at Bimbila Magistrate Court are supposed to appear before it later this month to answer charges on dishonesty and default.
The District Director of Agriculture Mr. Eugene Yelfaanibe who disclosed this to the Enquirer in an exclusive interview in his office at Bimbila indicated that his action to sue these farmers was to ensure the sustainability of the programme.
The programme, the Director described as “fantastic agriculture programme” is to ensure not only food security but support the development of agric sector and enhance the livelihoods of the people.
It also has the objectives to improve economic conditions of these poor farmers, make Ghana food sufficient, food reliable and reduce the difficulties farmers often go through in acquiring farm implements to undertake farming activities.
The Director who is now be threatened by some of these disgruntled farmers pointed out that politicking on all the government programmes including the government highly subsidized fertilizers and farm inputs, were responsible for the failures or unsuccessful implementations of most government programmes and livelihoods interventions.
The farming activities had increased tremendously in the Nanumba North District after the introduction of the government lock farm programme that engages thousands of unemployed youth. Currently the district is doing 1, 500 hectares of maize as against 100 last year, 500 hectares of rice as against 200 last year, 200 hectares of soya beans as against 90, and 35 hectares of sorghum this year alone.
The improvement of farming activities is a result of the government agriculture initiative including the supply of highly subsidized fertilizers and other agriculture inputs, the Director said.
Mr. Yelfaanibe disclosed that his office was compelled to take action against these defaulting farmers after the office’s consistent reminders and threat of prosecution could not compel them to voluntarily pay back the money belonging to the government.
“Some of them are reluctant to pay because their thinking is that the fertilizers were freely supplied by the government”, he said.