The majority New Patriotic (NPP) in parliament has accused the past Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Stephen Opuni, of introducing an unpopular free distribution of fertilizers in the 2014/2015 crop season to cocoa farmers which eventually ended up being distributed to only cocoa farmers who had National Democratic Congress (NDC) affiliation.
The majority NPP said some farmers who did not get the free fertilizer or had to struggle to get it, resorted to the open market to buy at the cost of GH¢150 per bag.
The NPP made the accusation at a press conference on Friday.
The NDC MP for Bodi in the Western Region – a cocoa growing area – Sampson Ahi, was also accused by the acting chairman of the Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs of Parliament, Kwame Asafu-Adjei, of being a fertilizer contractor at the time the NDC was in power..
According to the acting chairman who is also the MP for Nsuta-Kwamang-Beposo, a friend of his who is a farmer in his area complained to him (Asafu-Adjei) bitterly of not getting fertilizer for his farms and so knowing Sampson Ahi as an MP from the area, he (Asafu-Adjei) contacted him to help.
According to Mr Asafu-Adjei, Sampson Ahi was forthright and told him that bags of fertilizer distributed by the then government were in the custody of the District Chief Executive (DCE) and that he (Sampson Ahi) could make arrangements for the DCE to supply some of the fertilizers to the friend.
“Hon Sampson Ahi was a fertilizer contractor and the so-called free distribution of fertilizer was based on cronyism and political party affiliation,” the MP said.
The majority explained that cocoa farmers themselves had requested through various broad-based interactions that they would prefer buying the fertilizers from the open market at a subsidised price to the current arrangement of free distribution, which only got to some few selected cocoa farmers, with the rest being smuggled out of the country to neighbouring countries to be sold by people closely associated with the then ruling party.
“On paper, huge quantities of fertilizer were purchased but most cocoa farms were actually not fertilized and this was one of the reasons why cocoa production never exceeded 700,000 metric tonnes,” the majority noted.
Source: Daily Guide
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