Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Flagbearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the weekend congratulated cocoa farmers for the record harvest during this year’s cocoa season.
“For this cocoa season, Ghanaian cocoa farmers are, by all accounts, expected to register a record volume of production, which industry sources put at between 850,000-900,000 metric tons…” Nana Akufo-Addo said in a statement he issued in Accra at the weekend.
The statement said: “While this falls short of the New Patriotic Party’s anticipated target of one million tons by this time, it is indeed, welcoming news and a manifest justification to why a new government must continue with good policies that it inherits.
“It is with great pleasure that the New Patriotic Party and I express to our cocoa farmers how proud we are of their hard work and enterprise. We congratulate every one of you, as you continue to hold the fortunes of our nation in your productive hands.”
The statement said it was a known fact that the majority of farmers do not get adequate reward for their efforts. Thus, the transformation and modernisation of agriculture to enhance productivity, adding value to produce, guaranteeing food security for Ghana to become a major exporter of foods and raising the income of farming communities “are the vital issues of our time”.
“This success story in our cocoa industry has been achieved with a consistency of active and dedicated participation of government. In the era of the New Patriotic Party, cocoa production was doubled from 389,590 metric tons at the end of 2000 to a peak of over 750,000 metric tons in 2006/2007 for the same land area under cultivation.
“Deliberate initiatives such as the free mass cocoa spraying exercise and the application of subsidised fertilisers, gave farmers the support to produce more and better.
“Their efforts were also rewarded with a four-fold increase in producer prices, boosting cocoa farmers’ incomes to a level not seen since the 1950s. The price paid to farmers for a 64 kg bag of cocoa at the end of the 2000 season was GH¢21.7 (¢217,187.5). The price for the 2008 season was GH¢102 (¢1,020,000), representing a 370 per cent increase over the 2000 figure.
The statement said the NPP government paid six bonuses to cocoa farmers in its last seven years in office and instituted a policy where cocoa bonuses were paid twice every year. Prior to this development, cocoa farmers received bonuses only in 1992 and 1996.
It said the era where many frustrated farmers had to cut down their cocoa trees to cultivate teak, cola nut and oil palm was no more, adding: “The days of the ‘Go Ahead’ system of payment where government took the produce of farmers and paid them at a later date was no more”.
“The NPP’s plan to enhance the quality of life for the nation’s cocoa farmers and their families also resulted in the provision of additional incentives such as free mosquito nets, solar lamps and bulbs.
“The NPP also introduced the cocoa farmers housing scheme, which was meant to offer cocoa farmers affordable housing and improved living conditions. As at June of 2007, the scheme had been expanded to cover 66 cocoa districts in the country.
“The decision by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to continue with these support services introduced by its predecessor for cocoa farmers must be commended. It is the right way to go as a country.
“President (John Agyekum) Kufuor appointed the current Head of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Anthony Fofie, on December 16 2008, and the benefits of not “removing” him, as a result of a change in government, are now evident for Ghanaians to see.
“The NPP, in its 2008 Manifesto, promised to introduce a pension scheme for cocoa farmers and farm workers. On 19 May 2011, the COCOBOD said it was on the verge of establishing the first ever Pension Scheme for cocoa farmers to ensure that they do not suffer when they retire from active farming. Once again, the benefits resulting from embracing good and productive policies regardless of where it emanates from are being realised,” the statement said.
The statement noted that the negative consequences of the NDC government refusing to continue with projects began by the NPP in several other instances are being felt.
It said school building projects, some of which required just tiling or wiring to be ready for the new academic year, were cancelled.
“The affordable housing project started by the NPP, involving thousands of housing units across regions, a majority of which are nearing completion, have been abandoned by the NDC.
“We are, nevertheless, glad to note that 15 months after the President, in his 2010 State of the Nation Address, directed the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing ‘to complete all those housing projects’ started by the NPP, to help alleviate the acute housing problem facing the country, just last week, Government announced its intention to do so. We hope that Government will deliver on this promise this time.
“Numerous road projects started by the NPP, including major commercial routes such as Achimota-Ofankor road, Nsawam-Suhum road, Madina-Pantang road and the Sofoline interchange, just to mention a few, have all suffered from lack of funding under the NDC. The cost of this deprioritisation of priority projects to the Ghanaian economy and to commuters should jolt us to focus on getting them done.
“This negative governance behaviour must not be encouraged and I urge Government to reconsider its position on such projects.
“It is against this background that I ask the entire membership of the NPP to join hands with the leadership so that we can together work intelligently and courageously to deliver Ghanaians onto the path of a brighter and exciting future.
“It was to answer this call to duty that our successful ‘All Hands on Deck’ nationwide tour, which began on the 5th of May in Breman Asikuma in the Central Region and ended, on schedule, on the 16th of May in Tema, the Greater Accra Region, was undertaken by the party leadership.
“The NPP is determined to stay united, focusing on what matters to win back the confidence of the majority of Ghanaians and bring back hope for a brighter future,” the statement said.