The Minority in Parliament has expressed grievances on how unfairly cocoa farmers are being ripped off by President Akufo-Addo’s government and has called on the government to utilize the cocoa stabilization fund established by the previous government, to cushion farmers instead of the insensitive approach in which COCOBOD intends to use.
Weeks ago, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahene Aidoo, had stated that, government will not increase the producer price of cocoa and bonuses for the 2017/2018 crop cocoa season, following fallen prices of the commodity on the international market.
Addressing the media in a Press Conference on Wednesday, the Minority spokesperson on Agric and Cocoa Affairs, Hon. Eric Opoku, stated clearly who has the right to determine the producer price of cocoa, describing government’s failure to increase producer price as an unfair deal on the part of farmers as based on concrete consultation.
“We wish to state that, the Chief Executive officer of COCOBOD is not clothed with the mandate to determine the producer price of cocoa for farmers.
It is the duty of the producer price review committee to determine producer price of cocoa taking into consideration several factors including the economic conditions prevailing in the country, in order not to inflict untold hardships on our farmers. We are therefore urging the CEO of COCOBOD to allow the committee established in 1984 which has since discharged its duties effectively and efficiently, to continue its work without any form of usurpation,” he added.
According to Hon. Eric Opoku, the erstwhile John Mahama government established a Cocoa Stabilization Fund with annual contributions “as a risk mitigation mechanism against declines in international cocoa prices.
“The primary objective of the stabilization fund was to apply it to sustain the earnings of cocoa farmers and to cushion them, should the market price begin to decline. The recent decline in the price of cocoa internationally must therefore trigger the use of the stabilization fund to put smiles on the faces of our farmers.”
The Asunafo South Member of Parliament further challenged government to make public the amount that has accumulated so far under the stabilization fund and its impact on the farmers in this critical period.
He also said the NPP had replaced a promising Cocoa fertilization programme the Mahama government introduced and is thus ripping off cocoa farmers.
“Surprisingly, the NPP government on assumption of office has replaced the free fertilization programme with a programme under which farmers pay (GHc80) for a bag of fertilizer. This is unacceptable, we cannot sit aloof for the government to cheat our cocoa farmers.”
“Under the free fertilization programme, the cocoa farmer was entitled to 7.5 bags of granular fertilizer per every hectare of cocoa farm. So a farmer who has 100 hectares of cocoa farm was given 750 bags of fertilizer free of charge. Today under President Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government, the same farmer is to pay (GHc60,000) for the same 750 bags of fertilizer. This has exposed the Ghanaian cocoa farmer to intolerable levels of penury”. He disclosed.
The Minority also emphasized that, cocoa farmers have indirectly through the producer price determination formula used for the 2016/17 cocoa season paid for the fertilizer. Selling the same fertilizer to the same farmer is a broad day robbery, and therefore encouraging the CEO of COCOBOD to make it public how much is accumulated in the Fund and its impact on the farmers in this critical period.
“We are therefore urging the NPP Government to be sensitive to the plight of the Ghanaian cocoa farmer by halting the sale of the fertilizer and revert to the NDC’s free fertilization programme for the 2016/17 cocoa season”. He added.
Story: Blessing Roselyn Boateng