General News of Friday, 21 July 2017
Cocoa Farmers, have been left in a state of shock seeing government-procured fertilizer on sale, despite the bold inscription “not for sale” written on them.
The labeled fertilizers, were procured by the John Mahama-led government to be shared freely to cocoa farmers as an incentive package.
Fertilizers, over the last four years, were distributed to farmers free of charge by the previous COCOBOD administration headed by Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni to improve cocoa yields.
However, information reaching The Herald indicates that, these fertilizers have been spotted on trucks in parts of the country making their way onto the markets for sale. Other truckloads are also said to be leaving the country to neighbouring countries, where Cocoa is grown.
It comes few months after the government New Patriotic Party (NPP), announced it was going to abolish the policy by the previous government and replace it with the selling of the product, because of the challenges encountered by farmers.
The NPP government argues that, it has to sell the fertilizer, because of complaints by farmers that the product does not get to them, but are hoarded and sold at ridiculous prices both here in Ghana and outside by officials of COCOBOD.
Some of these officers, hoard the free products, including insecticide, spraying machines and wellington boots, later sell them to the farmers at great profit and pocket the proceeds at the expense of farmers and the state.
The free fertilizers, were also smuggled to neighbouring countries for personal gains.
Indeed, since assuming office, the Chief Executive Officer of Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has claimed Ghana’s fertilizer, were smuggled as far as Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroun.
The new policy directive, according to the new management of COCOBOD, is aimed at enhancing access to cocoa fertilizers to improve yield and incomes of cocoa farmers.
Mr. Boahen Aidoo, said the old system where the product was given out freely was not sustainable. But the policy which was received with missed feelings is reportedly not been effective as envisaged.
A bag of the granular fertilizer is now being offered to cocoa farmers at GH¢ 80.00, while a litre of the Liquid fertilizer, is GH¢20.00, representing subsidies of 53.4percent and 81.03 percent respectively.
Previously, the average purchase price per bag of granular fertilizer was GH¢171.75, while a litre of Liquid fertilizer was GH¢105.00.
Per the directive, COCOBOD, urged all cocoa farmers to insist on buying the fertilizers at the subsidized price from Cocoa Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs), Cocoa Inputs Companies, Offices of Cocoa Farmers’ Associations and Private Inputs Distributors across the country.
The argument being made is that, if there were left over of the product which were not procured by the new government, they should have either given it to the farmers free or erased the “not” from the “not for sale” so that it is appropriately sold to the farmers.