Gov’t is killing cocoa industry with politics – Minority

The Minority in Parliament has accused the ruling government of killing the cocoa industry with cheap politics.

Speaking Monday on Adom FM’s flagship political talk show ‘Burning Issues’ hosted by Afia Pokua, the Minority Spokesperson on Agriculture and Ranking Member on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto blamed the reduction in cocoa production on politicization of mass spraying programmes by the Mahama-led government.

Dr. Akoto, who is also the Member of Parliament for Kwadaso says government is only interested in spraying cocoa farms belonging to its party faithfuls instead of engaging in mass spraying.

According to him, Parliament approved a syndicated loan of $1.8 billion for the purchase of 950,000 tonnes of cocoa from farmers, however, statistics from COCOBOD shows that a total of 614,262 metric tonnes of cocoa were purchased from farmers between 1st October, 2014 and 21st May 2015.

Dr Akoto says this development is worrying, and urged the government to sit up to support the farmers to increase cocoa production.

“For the past 11 years this year is the worse Ghana has performed when it comes to cocoa production… because of politics”, Dr. Akoto stated.

He says instead of spraying cocoa farms six times in a year as was done by the Kufuor administration, the current government has rather reduced it to twice a year, adding that not all farmers even benefit from the reduced fumigation exercise.

Dr. Akoto, also revealed that the government owes the cocoa farmers millions in bonuses for three years, a situation he says is not encouraging increased cocoa production.

“I’m disappointed in the Finance Ministry and the Ghana COCOBOD for failing to pay cocoa farmers their bonuses for over three years” the Kwadaso MP stated.

Dr. Akoto stated that the government must increase the producer price of cocoa since the current price is a disincentive to cocoa farming.

Currently, the government buys a bag of cocoa at GHC 345, but Dr. Akoto believes that government must increase the price to GHC479 to serve as a motivation to the cocoa farmers to produce more to support Ghana’s troubled economy.

He emphasized that due to the government’s poor attitude towards the sector, some famers may continue to smuggle cocoa to other countries – a situation that would eventually collapse the cocoa sector within a few years.

Dr. Akoto has therefore urged the government to invest in the cocoa sector, just like the Kufuor administration did, to stabilize the cedi and grow the economy.

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