General News of Tuesday, 23 July 2019
President Akufo-Addo has challenged the opposition NDC to provide evidence of improved cocoa production under former president John Mahama.
He said, former President Mahama squandered the gains achieved under his predecessor and former boss, the late John Evans Atta Mills.
The President was speaking at a durbar at the Wassa East District capital, Daboase, where he visited as part of his tour of Ghana’s bread basket, the Western region.
Before he spoke, COCOBOD Chief Executive, Joseph Aidoo, had extensively explained, Mahama government was ruinous for cocoa farmers.
From one million tonnes achieved under Mills government in which Mahama was Vice-President, cocoa production slumped to 640,000 tonnes when John Mahama eventually became president between 2013 and 2017.
The COCOBOD CEO said the slump was even more surprising because the Mahama government provided free fertilisers for the farmers.
‘If you make it free, then cocoa production should be more,’ he said in Twi.
He said, every government improved cocoa production by the time they left office except Mahama.
President John Kufuor’s NPP government raised production to 750,000 tonnes by the time the government left office after 2008. The Jerry Rawling-led NDC government had left production at 380,000 tonnes when it handed over to Kufuor.
He said President Kufuor introduced mass cocoa spraying exercise and fertiliser subsidies which helped farmers to nearly double output to 750,000 tonnes.
These policies, the COCOBOD CEO said, also laid the ground for the next government of President Mills to achieve one million.
But Mahama after taking over, scrapped fertiliser subsidies but still could not improve the one million mark.
Ivory Coast where cocoa farmers buy their own fertilisers, produced 1.8million tonnes, Joseph Aidoo said.
The President took over after his appointee chided Mahama for “shedding crocodile tears” to cocoa farmers with criticisms aimed at his government.
‘We are challenging them to come and tell us what they have done to boost cocoa production’ he charged as election 2020 approaches.
“I can tell you in advance what they have done, zero,” the President waxed confident of his government’s record in cocoa production.
Prior to President Akufo-Addo’s tour of the region, his predecessor had described as sheer wickedness, President Nana Akufo-Addo’s decision to stop the supply of free fertilisers to cocoa farmers and allow the fertilisers to expire and dispose of them.
“I feel very sad for our cocoa farmers,” Mahama said, adding “we had good plans and started implementing good policies for the cocoa sector”.
He was speaking during an interaction with cocoa farmers and the people of Enchi in the Aowin Constituency of the Western North Region recently.
“When we started giving out free fertilisers, it was because we realised it will help improve yield, and in the 2016/17 crop year, we recorded 950,000 tons… I cannot understand why this government will decide to stop that and sell the fertilisers to the farmers… In fact, it is wickedness to leave the fertiliser in warehouses because the farmers cannot and won’t buy them, and throw them away after they expire,” he lamented.