Dr Bawumia in Torompan – Amenfi West
Vice presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has decried the continuous decline in the country’s cocoa industry.
Addressing cocoa farmers at Berekum in the Amenfi West constituency of the Brong-Ahafo Region, the celebrated economist and former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) said, “The cocoa industry itself in Ghana is collapsing. If you look at the cocoa sector in the Ivory Coast and you look at Ghana, there is a clear difference in how the sector is going.” Pointing at a farm close by, he observed: “If you look at this farm behind us, most of the cocoa trees in it are dying.”
He blamed the situation on President Mahama and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, which he (Bawumia) has often labelled as incompetent.
That, he said, was because “the NDC introduced politics into the Mass Spraying policy for example; they forgot that cocoa farms are like a network and so if one farm gets damaged, it will spread to other farms and so it is not smart to discriminate like the NDC has done because it is farmers who create wealth for this country and so by helping farmers, you are helping Ghana.”
For him, “any government that therefore does politicisation with a sensitive issue like cocoa is only damaging Ghana. The economy of Ghana is going down at the same time cocoa is going down.”
Dr Bawumia recalled how under the erstwhile Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government cocoa production was raised from 341,000 tonnes to about 700,000 tonnes between 2001 and 2008.
“Thanks to the good work of the NPP, cocoa production hit the historic one million mark in 2010/2011. This was due to policies like the Mass Spraying and Fertilizer Subsidy Programmes as well as other policies”…because “under the NPP, our view was that for Ghana to do well, cocoa must do well. It is because of this we introduced the Mass Spraying Programme and Fertilizer Subsidy Programme.”
“Now,” the NPP vice presidential candidate said, “these have collapsed.”
Dr Bawumia with Cocoa farmer Sabi Tetteh in Brekum -Amenfi West
But when elected into government, Dr Bawumia indicated, the NPP would aggressively pursue policies that would ensure that 500,000 metric tonnes are added to the current output in 10 years and that the achievement of this vision would be hinged on supporting the hardworking cocoa farmers to produce more and cultivate more trees.
“Our policy is to immediately restore the Mass Cocoa Spraying and Fertilizer Subsidy Programmes as well as a policy to supply and bring new seedlings into cultivation because without this, the Ivory Coast will leave us behind and we will soon fall below 500,000 metric tonnes; but our vision is to introduce policies that will see the addition of 500,000 metric tonnes to the output now,” he promised the farmers.
That, according to Dr Bawumia, “is going to be an intensive exercise and we will support our cocoa farmers greatly to achieve this because when cocoa does well, Ghana does well but the NDC has failed to realise this.”
He therefore urged cocoa farmers and all involved in the cocoa sector to support Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP because “it is the party that has demonstrated the capacity to grow the cocoa sector with well thought-out policies.”
Dr Bawumia took the opportunity to visit various cocoa farms in Berekum and other communities in the Amenfi West Constituency to see for himself the extent of decline in the sector.
He was accompanied on the tour by the parliamentary candidate for the area, Paul Dekyi.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu