The Majority in Parliament has accused a former Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni, of diverting fertilisers meant for all cocoa farmers to individuals linked to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) during his tenure.
The Vice Chair of the Food and Agriculture Committee, Kwame Asafu Adjei, who addressed a press conference on Friday June 23, stated that “distribution was based on cronyism and political party affiliation in such free fertiliser policy [introduced by Dr Opuni], creating enormous avenues for corruption”.
Explaining further, he said the cocoa fertiliser distribution programme, otherwise known as Cocoa Hi-Tech programme, was introduced in 2004 and not by former President John Dramani Mahama as claimed by some members of the NDC.
He said the introduction of the programme at the time yielded positive results leading to increased production.
“Until 2014, fertilisers were being subsidised and farmers had easy access to the input. However, from the beginning of 2014/2015 crop season, the authoritarian Chief Executive of Cocobod, Dr Opuni, decided to give out fertilisers free of charge to farmers for application on their farms.
“Quantities purchased were insufficient to meet the demands of all farmers due to budgetary constraints.
“Farmers complained of inadequate supply as well as diversion of the inputs. On paper, huge quantities of fertiliser were purchased, but most cocoa farms were not fertilised and this is one of the major reasons why cocoa production never exceeded the 700,000 metric tonne range.”
This, he explained, was one of the reasons coupled with numerous other complaints by farmers that resulted in “the NPP government deciding to introduce the fertiliser subsidy programme” which he said is meant to ensure that “the budgeted amount of fertiliser is equitably distributed to all farmers”.
According to him, the subsidy is almost 50 per cent, with the granular fertiliser selling at GHS80 and the liquid fertiliser GHS20 instead of the market price of GHS150 and GHS38 respectively.