Majority: Free fertiliser distribution was fraught with corruption

Osei Kyei Mensah  Bonsu Majority Leader

Mr Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Majority Leader

The Majority caucus in Parliament has justified government’s decision to revert to the ‘cash and carry’ regime in providing cocoa farmers with fertilisers.

According to the NPP MPs, the free fertiliser distribution programme under the outgone NDC administration was fraught with corruption as only party members were favoured in the distribution exercise.

They were responding to an earlier press conference held by the NDC caucus which called on the government to halt the sale of the crop enhancing substance which was free under their regime but was now selling at GH¢80.

The Minority, among other things, said selling the fertilisers, which has been paid for through the producer price determination formula used for the 2017/2018 cocoa season to farmers was “daylight robbery.”

It also challenged the government to allow the Producer Price Review Committee to determine producer price of cocoa as has been the case for decades, accusing the COCOBOD boss of sidestepping the committee in determining how much farmers were paid for their produce.
But at a press conference in Parliament on Friday, the Majority legislators said their colleagues on the other side of the political divide were engaged in mere political propaganda.

Addressing the press conference, the acting chairman of the Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee, Kwame Asafu-Adjei said until 2014, fertilisers were being subsidised and farmers had easy access only for the outgone COCOBOD administration to introduce the programme.

“Quantities purchased were insufficient to meet the needs of all farmers due to budgetary constraints. Distribution was based on cronyism and political party affiliation.

“In fact, the free fertiliser policy created enormous avenues for corruption. Farmers complained of inadequate supply as well as diversion of the inputs,” Mr Asafu-Adjei stated.

He said on paper, huge quantities of fertiliser were purchased, but most cocoa farms were not fertilised, and that was one of the major reasons why cocoa production never exceeded the 700,000 metric tonnes range.

The committee chairman said the subsidy provided was almost 50 per cent, which pegged the price of granular fertiliser at GH¢80 instead of the market price of GH¢150, and said that, government’s action would ensure that fertiliser was readily available at sales outlets across cocoa growing areas.

He assured cocoa farmers that, “government is putting in place measures that will reduce our over dependence on foreign buyers in the determination of cocoa prices” and appealed to cocoa farmers to “disregard any publication and comments which seek to suggest that cocoa farmers are being treated unfairly.”

By Julius Yao Petetsi & Abigail Owusuaa

 

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