Halt sale of fertiliser – Minority

Mr Joseph Aidoo, CEO, COCOBOD

Mr Joseph Aidoo, CEO, COCOBOD

The Minority in Parliament is demanding that government halt the sale of fertiliser as was the case when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was in power.

According to the NDC lawmakers, the Cocoa Fertilisation Programme (CFP) which was introduced during the Mahama-led administration, among other things was to increase cocoa production in the country.

Under the CFP, the Minority caucus claimed that cocoa farmers were entitled to 7.5 bags of granular fertiliser per every hectare of cocoa farm for free but were now buying a bag of fertiliser for GH¢80.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament in Accra yesterday, Eric Opoku, the ranking member on the Food and Agriculture Committee, said selling the crop enhancing medicine to farmers would gravely affect the output of farmers.

“So a farmer who has 100 hectares of cocoa farm was given 750 bags of fertiliser free of charge. Today under President Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government, the same farmer is to pay GH¢60,000 for the same 750 bags of fertiliser.

“This has exposed the Ghanaian cocoa farmer to intolerable levels of penury,” the Asunafo South MP stated.

He said cocoa farmers have indirectly, through the producer price determination formula used for the 2017/18 cocoa season, paid for the fertiliser, stating that, “selling the same fertiliser to the same farmer is a broad day robbery.”

On cocoa producer price, Eric Opoku said government was trying to shortchange farmers.

He was responding to claims by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, that farmers would not enjoy any increase in producer price and bonus for the 2017/18 season because the world market price has fallen.

Increasing the producer price, the Minority said does not lie with the Chief Executive of the COCOBOD.

“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 hardship on our farmers,” Mr Opoku stated.

He said the Cocoa Stabilisation Fund, established in 2014, with annual contributions from the Freight On Board (FOB) price was meant to be a risk mitigation mechanism against declines in the international cocoa prices.

The primary aim of the fund, Mr Opoku said, was to apply it to sustain the earnings of cocoa farmers and cushion them, should the market price begin to decline and challenged the COCOBOD boss to “make public how much is accumulated in the fund and its impact on farmers in this critical period.”

To this end, Mr Opoku said the recent decline in the price of cocoa internationally must, therefore, trigger the use of the Stabilisation Fund to put smiles on the faces of farmers.

“We are therefore urging the CEO of COCOBOD to allow the Producer Price Review Committee established in 1984 to continue to discharge its duties effectively and efficiently without any form of usurpation,” Mr Eric Opoku demanded.

By Julius Yao Petetsi

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