Minority unhappy with government on cocoa prices, fertiliser sale

The National Democratic Congress (ND Minority Caucus in Parliament has urged Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana COCOBOD not to interfere in fixing producer price for cocoa farmers.

Mr Aidoo is reported to have announced in a radio discussion in Accra on June 8, 2017, “to the effect that producer price of cocoa would not be increased and farmer would not be paid bonus for the 2017/ 2018 Cocoa Season, because the World market price has fallen.”

The announcement has since generated discussion in the Ghanaian Media, but the NDC Caucus, at a press conference at the Parliament House, in Accra, reminded the CEO that he is not “clothed with the mandate to determine the producer price of cocoa for farmers.”

The press conference was addressed by Mr Eric Opoku, Ranking Member of the Food and Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee, and attended by Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, the Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ranking Member on Finance, Casiel Ato Forson, Alhaji A B A Fuseini, Ranking Member on Communication,  Mr Kobena Mensah Woyome, Ranking Member on Youth, Sport and Culture and Mr Samuel Abdulai Jabanyite, MP for Chereponi, Mr Sampson Ahi, MP for Bodi; and Mr Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, MP for Juaboso.

Mr Opoku announced that most of the panelists themselves were cocoa farmers and reminded the COCOBOD CEO that it was the duty of the producer Price Review Committee to determine producer price of cocoa taking into consideration several factors including the economic situations prevailing in the country.

“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,” the Minority said.

The NDC Caucus recalled the establishment of the Cocoa Stabilisation Fund under former President John Mahama, which was to be applied to sustain earnings of cocoa farmers and to cushion them, should the market price begin to decline and advised government that the recent decline in the price of cocoa internationally must trigger the use of the fund “to put smiles on the faces of our farmers.”

“We are therefore encouraging the CEO of COCOBOD to make public how much is accumulated in the Fund and its impact on the farmers is critical,” Mr Opoku said, and stressed further for the usual extensive stakeholder consultations in achieving the best for Ghana’s cocoa farmers.

The Minority recalled also that former President Mahama introduced the Cocoa Fertilisation Programme, which was among other things to increase cocoa production in Ghana, pointing out that fertilizer supply under the programme was free.

“Surprisingly, the NPP Government on assumption of office has replaced the Free Fertilization programme under which farmers pay GHC 80 for a bag of fertilizer,” the NDC Minority Caucus said, adding “ this is unacceptable, we cannot sit aloof for the Government  to cheat out cocoa farmers.”

The payment for fertilizer by the cocoa farmers, according to the Minority “has exposed the Ghanaian farmer to intolerable levels of penury.”

The Minority described as “broad day robbery” the selling of the same fertilizer that the “cocoa farmers had indirectly through the producer price determination formula used for the 2016/17 cocoa season paid for the fertilizer.” 

The NDC Minority Caucus therefore urged “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.

Mr Ahi on his part advised Mr Hackman Owusu- Agyemang, Chairman of the COCOBOD Board to discontinue from telling cocoa farmers of no increase in producer price cocoa, saying that was not his prerogative but that of the Public Affairs Department of the outfit.

 Source: GNA

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