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General News of Tuesday, 30 October 2018


Government shares expired fertilizer as gifts to cocoa farmers

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The government-subsidized fertilizer, which was made available for farmers to buy at the cost of GH¢80 per sack,is hurriedly been shared among cocoa farmers for free in Assin Fosu and other Cocoa growing areas in country, as the product has a few days left to expire.

The product has November 20, 2016, as the day of manufacture, and November 20, 2018, as the expiry date.

Sadly, the cocoa farmers, have no immediate use for the chemicals, as the application period elapsed seven months ago, meaning the fertilizers have been wasted. Fertilizers were supposed to be applied on the plants around March and April.

More shocking are reports that, the government is procuring a new stock at many millions of dollars.

The product, which had the inscription “not for sale”, were being sold to the cocoa farmers, who could not afford it, forcing the government to now dish them out as gift to the farmers, as was the case under the erstwhile Mahama administration.

The Herald, is informed that President John Dramani Mahama himself, had sternly admonished the then management of the Ghana Cocoa Board led by Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, to give the products together with insecticides, hybrid cocoa seedlings, spraying machines among others free of charge to the farmers.

However, the Akufo-Addo government shortly after assuming office in 2017, condemned the free fertilizer policy, scrapped it entirely, and immediately replaced it with a subsidy, a decision which left several thousands of government-subsidized fertilizer in stock.

Speaking to Adom News, Yaw Opoku, a cocoa farmer at Assin Atentang, expressed worry about the last-minute distribution of the product.

According to Nana Out Tibu, the Chief of Assin Akropong Odumasi, the timing of the distribution is wrong, because cocoa fertilizer application, is usually done between the months of March and April to get the needed yield.

According to Adom FM, cocoa farmers were seen in a very long queue for the expiring products. The radio station said more than three hundred of them served at the time of its visit last Friday, whiles many others were waiting for their turn to be served.

Indeed, farmers and other stakeholders, legitimately are wondering if the fertilizer, which has less than one month to expire, can have any repercussions on their cocoa farms, but officials of COCOBOD, say it poses no challenge.

But the Assin Fosu District manager of Cocoa Health and Extension Division, Samuel Assumang, who spoke to Adom News off record, says there is no course for alarm and urged farmers to keep calm.

This comes as former President John Dramani Mahama recently warned the Akufo-Addo government not to sell cocoa fertilizers to cocoa farmers. According to him, these fertilizers are to be given to the farmers free of charge.

He argued that, this was a way of alleviating hardships of cocoa farmers, but the government is rather making these farmers poorer through its policies and programmes.

Mr Mahama, who is seeking to lead the National Democratic Congress (NDC) into elections 2020, told delegates of the Brong Ahafo Region last Saturday that, the sacks of these fertilizers, have been marked ‘Not for Sale,’ but he cannot comprehend why the government was selling to farmers, instead of it being supplied to them.

Mr Mahama, also lamented that the NPP government, has abandoned all the cocoa road projects in the Region, which were started under his tenure as President.

He said, his government made a deliberate policy to construct all major roads in cocoa growing areas and therefore appealed to the government to start working on the abandoned cocoa roads to ease the haulage of cocoa, as well as to promote the speedy and efficient transportation of goods and services.

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