The majority in parliament – New Patriotic Party (NPP) – has asked cocoa farmers in particular and Ghanaians in general to disregard the lies being peddled by the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) at its recent press conference about producer price of cocoa for the next crop season.
The NPP, at a similar press briefing to respond to what it called ‘untruths’ peddled by the minority NDC, said the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) had never made any pronouncement on producer price of cocoa for this year.
Leading the majority press conference on Friday, the acting chairman of Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee of parliament and NPP MP for Nsuta-Kwamang-Beposo, Kwame Asafu-Adjei, said the minority’s claim that the CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, had said that producer price of cocoa for this year would not be increased while bonuses too would not be paid to cocoa farmers were concocted lies and propaganda.
According to him, it is only the Producer Price Review Committee which has the mandate to determine the price depending on the world price of cocoa and the prevailing economic conditions in the country.
“We’ll like to explain that as indicated in the statement of the minority at its press conference, the Producer Price Review Committee is the only body mandated by law to set the price of cocoa and the CEO of COCOBOD only reiterated that at various fora he has held with stakeholders in the industry,” Mr Asafu-Adjei stressed..
The majority also refuted the claim by the minority that the Stabilisation Fund was created by the immediate-past president, John Dramani Mahama in 2014 to help cushion cocoa farmers and add to the producer price of cocoa, if the prices on the world market fall.
“We want to put on record that the Stabilisation Fund was established during the 2007/2008 crop season under former President Kufuor and not in 2014 as claimed by the minority. Government set up the Fund as part of measures to guarantee stable income for cocoa farmers. The Fund was meant to maintain the prevailing producer price in the event that the net Free On Board (FOB) price falls drastically as being experienced now, so that the government does not reduce the producer price of cocoa,” the NPP pointed out, stressing that the creation of the Fund underpins government’s commitment to reduce the exposure of cocoa farmers to price volatility on the world cocoa market.
Mr Asafu-Adjei further explained that the Stabilisation Fund is a standby Fund to ensure that irrespective of how low cocoa prices fall on the world market, Ghanaian cocoa farmers do not suffer a reduction in producer price of the crop.
He said the cocoa industry is facing serious crisis with the current 40% reduction of prices of cocoa on the world market, while COCOBOD had been left ‘orphaned’ by the NDC government with a crippling debt of GH¢10 billion.
The majority said in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 crop seasons, the then NDC government did not increase producer price of cocoa because of the drastic fall in prices on the world market but used the Stabilisation Fund to maintain the producer prices.
“The producer price of GH¢7,600 per tonne of cocoa as announced at the beginning of the 2016/2017 crop season has not changed and will not be reviewed downwards as is being speculated, despite the drastic fall in the world price of cocoa from over $3,122 per tonne in June 2016 to $1,900 in June, 2017. The Stabilisation Fund is neither used to increase producer price nor pay bonuses as stated by the minority, but rather used as the name implies – to stabilise prices to farmers,” the majority explained.