The Minority in Parliament is challenging the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), Joseph Aidoo, to make public funds accrued so far under the Cocoa Stabilisation Fund.
The Fund, according to the Minority, was introduced during the tenure of John Dramani Mahama – precisely in October, 2014 – “as a risk-mitigation mechanism against declines in the international cocoa prices”. The primary objective of the Fund was to apply it to sustain the earnings of cocoa farmers and to cushion them, should the market price begin to decline.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, Minority Spokesperson on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Eric Opoku said the recent decline in cocoa prices must trigger the use of the Fund. “We are therefore encouraging the CEO of COCOBOD to make it public how much is accumulated in the Fund and its impact on the farmers in this critical period,” Mr Opoku demanded.
MINORITY PRESS CONFERENCE ON COCOA
Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, Our attention has been drawn to some statements made by the CEO of COCOBOD, Mr. Joseph Boahene Aidoo on 8th June, 2017 when he interacted with joy FM to the effect that producer price of Cocoa would not be increased and farmers would not be paid Bonus for the 2017/2018 Cocoa Season because the World market Price has fallen.
This has been the subject of discussion in the Ghanaian Media for the past two weeks. Ladies and Gentleman, first and foremost, we wish to state that the chief Executive officer of COCOBOD is not clothed with the mandate to determine the producer price of Cocoa for farmers. It is the duty of the producer Price Review Committee to determine producer price of cocoa taking into consideration several factors including the economic conditions prevailing in the Country in order not to inflict untold hardships on our farmers.
We are therefore urging the CEO of COCOBOD to allow the committee established in 1984 which has since discharged its duties effectively and efficiently to continue its work without any form of usurpation.
COCOA STABILIZATION FUND
In October, 2014, the NDC government under President John Dramani Mahama established the Cocoa Stabilization Fund with annual contributions from the FOB price as a risk-mitigation mechanism against declines in the international cocoa prices.
The primary objective of the stabilization Fund was to apply it to sustain the earnings of cocoa farmers and to cushion them, should the market price begin to decline. The recent decline in the price of cocoa internationally must therefore trigger the use of the stabilization Fund to put smiles on the faces of our farmers.
We are therefore encouraging the CEO of COCOBOD to make it public how much is accumulated in the Fund and its impact on the farmers in this critical period. It is also important to note that extensive stakeholder consultation has always been the means of achieving the best for our hardworking Cocoa Farmers.
COCOA FERTILIZATION PROGRAM
Ladies and Gentlemen, The NDC Government under the leadership of President John Dramani Mahama introduced the Cocoa Fertilization Program among other things to increase Cocoa Production in Ghana.
Accordingly, the Producer Price Review Committee before the determination of the producer price of cocoa made provision for the purchase of 2.2 million bags of granular fertilizer and 1.6 million litres of liquid fertilizer to fertilise over 1 million hectares of cocoa farms free of charge to the farmer in the 2016/17 cocoa season.
Surprisingly, the NPP government on assumption of office has replaced the Free Fertilization Program with a program under which farmers pay (GHc80) for a bag of fertilizer. This is unacceptable, we cannot sit aloof for the Government to cheat our cocoa Farmers. Under the free fertilization program, the cocoa farmer was entitled to 7.5 bags of granular fertilizer per every hectare of cocoa farm.
So a farmer who has 100 hectares of cocoa farm was given 750 bags of fertilizer free of charge. Today under President Akuffo Addo/Bawumia government the same farmer is to pay (GHc60, 000) for the same 750 bags of fertilizer. This has exposed the Ghanaian cocoa farmer to intolerable levels of penury.
We want to emphasize that cocoa farmers have indirectly through the producer price determination formula used for the 2016/17 cocoa season paid for the fertilizer. Selling the same fertilizer to the same farmer is a broad day robbery.
We are therefore urging the NPP Government to be sensitive to the plight of the Ghanaian cocoa farmer by halting the sale of the fertilizer and revert to the NDC’s free fertilization program for the 2016/17 cocoa season.