The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament has accused the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) of deliberately shortchanging poor cocoa farmers who should have been compensated for their hard work in sustaining the cocoa industry.
According to the Minority, cocoa farmers should be paid GH¢319 per bag of 64kg and not GH¢212 per bag of cocoa being given to them.
At a press conference yesterday in Parliament, the Minority’s spokesperson on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Dr Owusu Afriyie-Akoto said, “The NDC government is now making cocoa farmers poorer and at the same time benefitting hugely from efforts of poor cocoa farmers.”
He said while workers at cocoa loading bays at the sea ports have had 100 percent increase in wages in the last 12 months following strong agitations and strike actions, cocoa farmers did not get any increase in cocoa prices.
He said bonuses due cocoa farmers over the last three years have also not been paid by the ruling government.
“For the last three years, cocoa farmers have been suffering declining incomes with cost of living significantly rising while cost of farm inputs like fertilizers, weedicides, insecticides, pesticides and farm machinery have also been going up,” he said.
He said what has even worsened the plights of cocoa farmers was the rising inflation rate which is currently standing at 13.8 percent.
“The incomes of cocoa farmers are hugely going to be undermined by the fact that in the 2012/2013 cocoa season, they were rewarded only a token of five percent increase in cocoa prices as against domestic inflation rate of 10 percent but now inflation is at 13.8 percent but cocoa prices did not see any increase,” he lamented stressing that inflation would continue to rise because of the depreciation of the cedi, rising interest rate and widening fiscal deficit.
Dr Owusu Afriyie-Akoto pointed out that contrary to government’s arrangements to pay a minimum of 70 percent of Free On Board (FOB) price to farmers which translate into GH¢319 per bag, the government has also decided to pay just 46.6 which is the current GH¢212 per a bag of 64kg.
“Farmers should be paid FOB price of GH¢7,290 per metric tonne instead of GH¢3,392 being paid to farmers currently,” he said adding that the situation has resulted in massive smuggling of cocoa across the country’s borders where a bag of cocoa is selling at GH¢240 as against GH¢212 being offered in Ghana.