Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, the Upper West Regional Minister, said rampant smuggling of fertilizers across borders had caused losses of revenue to the government.
He said farmers did not get the products at all or get them late which affected their annual yields thereby defeating the input subsidy policy of the government.
That notwithstanding, the government was fashioning out ways to make inputs readily available to farmers at affordable prices, Alhaji Sulemana said this in a speech read on his behalf at the “Paari Gbielle” festival of the chiefs and people of the Tumu Traditional Area on Saturday.
Alhaji Sulemana said agriculture constituted the main stay of the economy but it was hampered by inadequate and erratic rainfall and in recent times, floods and droughts.
He said the Sissala area was noted for being the food basket of the region and that Ghana stood to benefit greatly if agricultural production was enhanced.
He appealed to farmers to adhere to best farming practices to help sustain food production, saying hoe and cutlass system of farming should give way to more modernised and mechanised methods, including the use of tractors and irrigation.
He said the government had, through the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), provided tractors to service providers across the region to help boost food production and urged the youth to take advantage of the fertile lands to engage in agriculture.
Alhaji Sulemana also called on the youth to utilise the dugouts and dams constructed under the Ghana Social Opportunities Project (GSOP) during the dry seasons to improve their incomes and stop migrating to the south in search of non-existing jobs or engage in menial jobs.
He asked the Sissala East District Chief Executive to collaborate with GSOP officials to work out modalities and rehabilitate the Tumu Dam to serve the numerous dependents on the dam.
He commended the chiefs and people of the Tumu Traditional Area for promoting peaceful co-existence among other ethnic groups living on the Sissala land.
On chieftaincy, Alhaji Sulemana appealed to kingmakers to use the right procedures to find rightful persons to occupy the vacate skins at Pulima, Zini and Wellembelle.
The “Paari Gbielle” is an agricultural festival and the chiefs and people of the Tumu Traditional Area observe it annually to give thanks to Almighty Allah for providing farmers with rains and sunshine, to produce sufficient food for their upkeep.
It is also a period to deliberate on the development of the area by sons and daughters of the area.
The festival was attended by people of all walks of life including some chiefs from southern Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Other ethnic groups such as the Vaglas and Gonjas in the Northern Region, Kasinas from Upper East Region attended the festival and delivered solidarity messages. GNA