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20 October 2016

Gov’t ‘cheating’ cocoa farmers – Minority

cocoaThe Minority in Parliament has accused the government of fixing a low cocoa producer price for the 2016/2017 crop year.

It said the low producer price of GH¢475 per bag announced recently was a direct result of the fact that the gross proceeds from cocoa exports were riddled with fraud and corruption perpetrated by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Speaking at a press conference in Parliament on Tuesday, the Minority Spokesperson on Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said instead of admitting to the widespread discontent and offering the long-suffering farmers a price closer to GHc600 per bag of 64 kilogrammes (kg) each, the government had resorted to propaganda.

He claimed that reports were emerging in the cocoa growing areas of Sefwi, Nzema, Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Akuapem, Kwahu and Volta, of NDC activists going round cocoa villages with rumours that that the flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, refused to sign an agreement with international banks and that President John Dramani Mahama signed the document.

He said the NDC activists claimed that it was because of the non-cooperation on the part of Nana Akufo-Addo, that the government could not offer a much higher producer price than the GHc475.

“The NDC are attempting to shift the blame for the slave-wage cocoa prices from themselves unto the innocent NPP flag bearer, Nana Akufo-Addo,” he said.

Chemicals

Dr Afriyie Akoto said the claim by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) that it spent more than $838 million in 2015/2016 importing and distributing fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals for cocoa farmers needed to be verified.

Besides, he said, another claim that the $150 million was spent on cocoa roads needed to be explained.

“It would be important for COCOBOD to provide the names and locations of the farmers and the quantities of fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals supplied to them,” he said.

Dr Afriyie Akoto said the massive leakage of imported chemical inputs by smuggling to neighbouring countries, had denied farmers the much needed inputs and reduced their yields.

Besides, he said, the leakage had cut the amount available “to pay remunerative prices to cocoa farmers.”

Dr Afriyie Akoto claimed that the chemicals, which had been imported and distributed to farmers, had not been tested.

Cocoa roads

The Minority Spokesperson said in spite of the huge amounts involved in the construction of cocoa roads, the contracts for the construction and maintenance of roads in cocoa producing areas were sole sourced with inflated quotations.

“Chits were issued to relatives, cronies, apparatchiks and activists of the NDC fraternity, who then sold them on to contractors,” he said.

Source: Graphic.com.gh

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