afrol News, 24 March - Impostors in Ghana are giving new meaning to the expression of "selling sand in the Sahara." The gang managed to sell sacks of sand to poor farmers, telling them it was fertilizer.
According to local sources, the con-men were able to trick many poor farmers in rural Ghana by collecting old sacks from the Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara, which also has a production line in Ghana. But instead of fertilizer, the sacks were re-filled with ordinary sand.
Ghana police forces inform that they have detained at least two persons put in connection with the scam, charged with falsifying products by the local producer Yara Ghana.
The arrest of the first two suspects was made after local police officers in the Kumasi area secured some 500 sacks of what was marked as fertilizer from Yara Ghana. It was quickly established that the sacks contained mostly sand deposits, presumably collected from a local beach, mixed with some other particles.
Officials of Yara Ghana told the local broadcaster 'Joy FM' they were concerned at "the rise of the fertilizer falsification on the market." They assume there to be several swindler gangs selling bad fertilizers to Ghanaian farmers and are to assist police in attempting to get the accused con-men convicted.
After the scam was discovered, also the Norwegian company has declared its full cooperation with Ghanaian police and with local agriculturalist associations. Yara wants to help eliminate the market for fake fertilizers altogether.
Yara communication chief Atle Skredderberget told the Norwegian daily 'DN' that the company took the scam "very seriously" as the company depended on farmers' trust. "When such a thing happens, it is terrible for the farmer," he told 'DN', adding that farmers had paid for "a worthless product that in the worst case is harmful to his soil."
According to Mr Skredderberget, this is not the first time someone fakes the Yara trademark to sell false fertilizers. To address the problem, Yara was now starting an information campaign in Ghana, teaching farmers how real fertilizer looks like.
Yara is the world's leading fertilizer producer, with an annual turnover of around US$ 10 billion. Africa represents an estimated ten percent of Yara's market, with Ghana being among the leading markets.
Ghana still is heavily dependent on its agricultural sector, accounting for around 40 percent of its GDP and providing 57 percent of the country's export earnings. Commercial agriculture has developed into a main industry in Ghana, with cocoa being the principal export product.
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