The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has accused the NDC Minority in Parliament of being economical with the truth, over the purchase of 2.2 million bags of granular fertilizer and 1.6million litres of liquid for cocoa farmers by the Mahama led-government.
According to COCOBOD though the previous administration factored the purchase of fertilizers, it spent a whopping GHC 750 milion on the construction of cocoa roads when it had budgeted for on GHC 150 million, a situation that has resulted in debt with no provision made to settle it.
The Minority is accusing the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led government of cheating cocoa farmers by asking them to buy fertilizers which have already been paid for by the previous NDC government.
According to them, the Mahama administration prior to the determination of the producer price of cocoa made provision for the purchase of 2.2 million bags of granular fertilizer and 1.6million litres of liquid fertilizer to fertilize over 1million hectares of cocoa farms free of charge to the farmer in the 2016/2017 cocoa season.
Addressing journalists at a news conference in Accra over the issue, the Ranking Member on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Hon Eric Opoku, said it baffles their imagination why the government will turn around to sell the already paid for fertilizers to the cocoa farmer.
The NPP government has replaced the free fertilization program introduced by the previous NDC government with a program under which farmers pay GH¢80.00 for a bag of fertilizer.
With the new program, a cocoa farmer who has 100 hectares of cocoa farm and was therefore entitled to 750 bags (7.5 bags of granular fertilizer per hectare) is expected to pay GH¢60,000 for the same 750 bags of fertilizer.
This the Minority NDC considers is a slap in the face of the cocoa farmers.
But speaking to Kasapa News, Fiifi Boafo, the Executive Assistant to the COCOBOD Chief Executive, explained that COCOBOD’s decision to sell fertilizers to farmers at reduced price is partly to enable it offset debt accrued by the previous administration.
He noted that this initiative, is meant to bring to an end the smuggling of subsidized fertilizers to neighboring west African countries including Ivory Coast and Cameroon.
“Now, the Licensed Buying Companies sell the fertilizers and they’ll later come back and render accounts to COCOBOD as to whom they sold the fertlizers to. This is a clear departure from the earlier way of doing things. By this measure, fertilizers will no longer get into the hands of constituency chairmen and also be smuggled to other countries as has been the case in the past years.”