Dr Alfred Arthur, the Acting Head of Soil Science Division of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), has told an Accra High Court that the Division never tested a fertilizer named Agricult Lithovit Folliar Fertilizer.
He said even though there were no records in their system to show that the fertilizer was tested but there was a certificate issued with the signature of Dr Franklin Manu Amoah, the Executive Director of CRIG.
Dr Arthur said this in his evidence in chief led by Mrs Yvonne Atakora Oboubisa, the Director of Public Prosecution in the case involving Dr Stephen Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited.
Dr Opuni and Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretence, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have pleaded not guilty and have been granted a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail by the Court.
He said on October 9, 2017, himself, Mr A.A Afrifa, the former Head of the Soil Science Division of CRIG and one J.H Dogbatse were summoned to appear before a committee at COCOBOD.
He said the committee was chaired by the Deputy CEO of COCOBOD in Charge of Agronomy and Quality Control and they were asked to explain whether Lithovit Folliar Fertilizer went through full field testing at least two years.
In his response, he said, the Lithovit Folliar Fertilizer was tested for a period of six months, the question, therefore was that why was the recommendation made for it to be used on matured Cocoa and “l told them that l cannot speak to that.”
Dr Arthur said Mr A. A. Afrifa after a series of interrogations from one of the Committee members, said he wrote the supposed final report and submitted without the knowledge of the witness and one J.H Dogbatse.
He also said he was instructed by Dr Opuni to end the trial of the testing of the fertilizer at the six month period and that COCOBOD was going to carry out a pilot project on a 10,000 acre cocoa production farm.
It was at this moment that the lawyer for Dr Opuni made an observation concerning some of the evidence made by the witness, saying it was a hearsay, since it was at the committee level that these supposed issues were raised, so there should be minutes to cover what he was saying.
Mr Samuel Cudjoe, the lawyer for Dr Opuni, said the evidence, the witness has given about Mr Afrifa was inadmissible, unless the State comes under section 126 of the Evidence Act and tender the material as an official document.
In response to the observation, the Director of Public Prosecution said the witness was telling the court, what he had seen, heard and took actions on.
She said from the beginning on his evidence-in-chief, the witness had testified on how he had worked on the fertilizer and various interactions with officers of COCOBOD, EOCO and CRIG all in respect to the testing.
The court then overruled the observation and allowed the witness to continue his evidence in chief.
Dr Arthur said in December 2017, Management of CRIG, asked scientists and technical officers of the Soil Science Division, Plant Pathology and Entomology Division to go to the field and re-evaluate all agro-chemical and spraying machines used on cocoa for the 2018 crop season.
He said samples of fertilizers and insecticides among other chemicals were collected from farmers and one of the fertilizers found on the market found at Tafo Cocoa Station was the supposed Lithovit Folliar Fertilizer.
He said the samples were sent to the laboratory to check its efficacy, adding that “My Lord we were expecting to find the fertilizer in a powdery form but, however, what we picked from the field was a liquid fertilizer but we analysis the content all the same.”
The Acting Head of Soil Science Division said the Laboratory analysis indicated that there was 0.06 per cent of Calcium Carbonate and 0.086 magnesium carbonate in the fertilizer.
“The packaging of the container did not indicate the expiry and manufacturing dates and based on the improper labelling, we asked management not to issue any certificate covering the Lithovit Folliar Fertilizer with the product name; Agricult Lithovit Folliar Fertilizer plus 5 per cent urea,” he added.
He said after submitting report to Mr Afrifa on January 14, 2014, he did not do anything again and no re-evaluation was done by the division.
In a cross-examination, Mr Cudjoe asked the witness, whether CRIG has a diary, in which they record daily happenings but he said he could not tell.
He was further asked, whether the Soil Science Division has a diary, which recorded daily activities and he said yes and that not every 0activities were been recorded in the daily.
The Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge adjourned the case to Monday 12, for continuation of cross-examination.