PRESIDENT John Mahama has warned those involved in the sale of cocoa input provided free by government to farmers to increase yield, saying that perpetrators would be dealt with severely if caught.
“The inputs are free and not for sale, don’t hesitate to report people who ask you for money in return for the hybrid seedlings and fertilisers,” the President said, hinting that an investigative team from COCOBOD was on hand to apprehend those found culpable.
Government, in its quest to return Ghana to the number one spot as the world’s largest producer of cocoa has begun distribution of 50 million high-yielding cocoa seedlings and fertilisers to farmers for free, aside the occasional free mass spraying exercises.
But the efforts are being hampered by saboteurs who divert and sell the input to farmers.
President Mahama gave the warning yesterday at a durbar of chiefs and people of Subin Camp in the Adansi South District of the Ashanti Region, prior to the sod-cutting for commencement of work on roads earmarked for facelift under the Cocoa Roads Rehabilitation programme.
He bemoaned the fact that Ghana’s cocoa, though the best in the world in terms of quality, was playing second fiddle to La Cote d’Ivoire due partly to old tree crops and the activities of saboteurs.
The roads to be tarred under the cocoa roads improvement project are the 22-kilometre Ataase-Nkwanta-Owusukrom feeder roads, and the five-kilometre New Edubiase town roads.
“Government has decided to remove the Dompoase town roads reconstruction project from GOG funding unto the Cocoa Infrastructure Fund to expedite work on it”, President Mahama said.
He noted that cocoa had benefitted the nation immensely, fetching scarce foreign exchange for the country, it was therefore fitting that those engaged in its production reaped substantial rewards.
The President said the upgrading of cocoa roads across the country, under the 150 million dollars that would be set aside annually for the next five years, would increase farmers’ incomes and motivate them to boost production.
Mr. Peter Anarfi Mensah, Ashanti Regional Minister, stressed government’s commitment to its transformation agenda, a major underpinning of which was roads construction.
He said there were a number of small town water schemes underway in the area aside roads and electrification projects.
The minister hinted of plans to uplift sporting activities in the area, especially football by constructing a modern stadium at New Edubiase.
Okofo Subin Kan II, the Dompoasehene, thanked the government for its development interventions in the area and appealed for the construction of schools in areas lacking educational infrastructure.
President Mahama later paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Queen of New Edubiase.
From Samuel Nuamah, New Edubiase