Business News of Wednesday, 11 March 2015
The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament, has urged government to pay the annual bonuses cocoa farmers are entitled to, which has delayed for three consecutive years.
Mr Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, NPP Minority Leader, said the GH?5.00 bonus per bag of the produce announced recently by the government was disgusting; as “by day” labour attracts between two and three times that amount.
He said government had for three years, since 2011/12 to 2013/2014 paid a fixed producer price to cocoa farmers in the face of escalating prices in every facet of the national life.
“Given the world market price today, the current exchange rate of $1 to GH?3.50 as well as the National Democratic Congress’ own manifesto pledge to pay at least 70 per cent of the free-on-board (FoB) price, the cocoa farmer should be paid not less than GH?480.00 per bag,” Mr Mensah-Bonsu said on Monday in Accra during the Minority’s State of the Nation Address at a press briefing dubbed “The True Message of the Present State of the Nation, 2015”.
He said the current produce price would neither encourage farm land expansion, nor engender increase in the quantum produced.
He said in the cocoa growing areas in the Volta Region close to Togo; in the cocoa producing areas in the Brong Ahafo and Western Regions that were close to the Ivory Coast, “cocoa is crossing to the other countries and Ghana is losing out”.
“The farmers need better remuneration, pure and simple. Otherwise no pleas, admonitions or even border controls by security personnel will deter smuggling,” the Minority Leader said.
Mr Mensah-Bonsu said cocoa played a central role in the nation’s economy, stating that a $ 1.7 billion COCOBOD syndicated loan was used to salvage the cedi from utter pulverisation in September, 2014.
“The loan saved the economy from virtual collapse. It is for this reason that it becomes imperative for farmers to be given the fair share of their toils,” he stated.
The Minority Leader also appealed to government to subsidize fertilisers to enable the nation’s farmer’s increase their yields.