Seed suppliers for government’s flagship ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) initiative are yet to be paid for seeds they have supplied for the programme since 2021, the B&FT can confirm.
In the 2021 PFJ season, a total of 34,291 metric tonnes of seeds, worth GH¢207.3million were distributed – but almost eight months into this year, the suppliers, who are unionised under the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG), are yet to receive any payment. With barely four months to the end of this year, it appears that the arrears of 2022 will also delay into the end of 2023 if the trend continues like that of last year, 2021.
A petition letter available to the B&FT, written by NASTAG to Josiah Wobil – Chairman of the National Seed Council (NSC) states: “We wish to express our concerns through the NSC to the Minister of Food and Agriculture on the undue delay in the payment for seed supplied for the year 2021 under the PFJ initiative”.
The letter, signed by NASTAG’s president Kwabena Adu-Gyamfi, purported that fertiliser suppliers are more prioritised when it comes to payments than seed suppliers under the PFJ.
The Association said its members are struggling to mobilise resources to enable them fulfil obligations of supplying seeds to farmers under the programme in the 2022 season, as the money owed has lost over 40 percent of its value due to the cedi’s depreciation.
“About 95 percent of seed suppliers are locals with a very tight financing scheme. The outstanding indebtedness since 2021 implies that the real value of the seeds have already diminished; hence, further delay in payments will inflict dents in our ability to service our huge unpaid loans,” the letter said.
NASTAG believes as the cost of production keeps escalating on a daily basis, delays in payment of the arrears to enable the Association supply further seeds will significantly reverse recent advances in seed sector investments which the PFJ programme itself has facilitated.
“It is therefore our expectation that your intervention on this matter will yield the desired result; ensuring seed companies receive their full payments within the shortest possible time. Seed demand for this year is currently at its peak, and we intend to support farmers with their seed needs. Rapid action of the NSC for MoFA and the Finance Ministry to effect payments will empower us, and restore confidence to enable us meet the expectations of Ghanaian farmers,” the letter concluded.
Indeed, some members of NASTAG have told the B&FT that banks are not willing to extend credit for them to enable seed production this season, due to defaults in servicing previous loans. It is feared that the situation will lead to an influx of foreign seeds as local seed production could dwindle.
As a respite, the B&FT’s sources at MoFA indicates that government is concluding processes to start payment of the debts soon.