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Business News of Thursday, 13 October 2016

Source: Class FM

Cocoa spraying: Farmers better judges – Cocobod

Cocoa farmers across the country are better-placed to answer claims by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that successes chalked in the cocoa sector by the Kufuor administration have been eroded by the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC), Noah Amenya, Director of Public Affairs of COCOBOD, has said.

Mr Akufo-Addo, flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), as part of his campaign ahead of the 2016 elections, has said a future NPP government will institute measures, including the payment of significantly higher producer prices of cocoa above the levels which the NDC administration has provided to farmers in the last seven years, reintroduce bonuses scrapped by the NDC government, ensure that children of cocoa farmers gain access to COCOBOD scholarships, and reintroduce and depoliticise the mass cocoa spraying exercise.

This, Nana Akufo-Addo noted, would increase cocoa production, and also improve the welfare and livelihoods of cocoa-farming communities across the country.

The NPP flag bearer made these known earlier in 2016 while addressing a town hall meeting of identifiable groups, comprising cocoa farmers, artisans, market women, drivers, the clergy, Muslim clerics, chiefs, among others, at Daboase, in the Wassa East constituency of the Western Region.

According to Mr Akufo-Addo, “All the initiatives put in place by President Kufuor have collapsed. Mass spraying exercise has collapsed. Subsidised fertilisers no longer get to farmers, producer price of cocoa has reduced in real terms, and cocoa bonuses, which the NPP paid while we were in office, have been scrapped. It is not surprising, therefore, that today, producing 700,000 metric tonnes of cocoa has become very difficult. We will reverse all of this.”

But responding to these claims while speaking on Ghana Yensom on Accra100.5FM on Thursday October 13, Mr Amenya said: “I will not want to respond to a political statement but I will want to give you the fact so you weigh against what he has said. The farmers themselves are happy with the initiatives and programmes and so they are the better judges. If the farmers are receiving the fertilisers and the spraying exercise, then it means we have not collapsed the programme. We commenced all these initiatives when President Kufuor was in power and the mass-spraying ensured a booming cocoa business in the country. The fertiliser distribution at that time was subsidised but now it’s free, and, so, if the farmers are benefiting from all these initiatives, then they are the better judges.”

He added: “…Previously, we used to pay the bonuses after we had sold the cocoa beans but now because we know the achievable FOB (Free On Board) and the producer price, we decided to give them upfront payment, and, so, for the past three years, any time we announced the producer price, we add the bonuses. The farmers do not wait at the end of the season before receiving their bonuses, they receive them on the spot. And so the bonus has not been scrapped.

“(However), in real terms, the real value of the money is beyond COCOBOD; it is an issue with the whole economy. What is the real value of the cedi in 2008 compared to 2016? We (COCOBOD) cannot do anything about it and so if we, as a country, do our things well, then we can achieve whatever real values we want to achieve.”

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