The Minority side of Ghana’s Parliament says the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahene Aidoo, is not clothed with the mandate to determine the producer price of cocoa for farmers, hence should allow the Producer Price Review Committee which is charged with the responsibility to perform its duty.
Their call follows some statements made by the CEO of COCOBOD to the effect that producer price of cocoa would not be increased and farmers would not be paid bonuses for the 2017/2018 cocoa season because the World market price had fallen.
Addressing a press conference in Accra, the Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Hon. Eric Opoku, said that it is the duty of the Producer Price Review Committee to determine the 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 farmers. He, therefore, urged 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.
He also indicated that in October, 2014, the NDC government under President John Dramani Mahama established the Cocoa Stabilisation Fund with annual contributions from the Free on Board (FOB) price as a risk-mitigation mechanism against declines in international cocoa prices. He explained that the primary objective of the stabilisation Fund was to apply it to sustain the earnings of cocoa farmers and to cushion them against unfavourable prices on the world market. ‘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’, he stated.
Hon. Opoku also said that the NDC government under the leadership of President John Dramani Mahama introduced the Cocoa Fertilisation Programme, among other things, to increase Cocoa Production in Ghana. He explained further, that 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. He claims however, that the NPP government on assumption of office has replaced the Free Fertilization Programme with a programme under which farmers pay (GH₵80) for a bag of fertiliser. ‘This is unacceptable. We cannot sit aloof for the Government to cheat our cocoa Farmers.
Under the free fertilisation programme, 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 fertiliser free of charge. Today under President Akuffo Addo/Bawumia government the same farmer is to pay (GH₵60, 000) for the same 750 bags of fertilizer. This has exposed the Ghanaian cocoa farmer to intolerable levels of penury,’ he said.
He emphasised that cocoa farmers have indirectly paid for the fertilizer through the producer price determination formula used for the 2016/17 cocoa season, adding that selling the same fertiliser to the same farmer is broad day robbery. The Minority, therefore, urged government to be sensitive to the plight of the Ghanaian cocoa farmers by halting the sale of the fertiliser and revert to the NDC’s free fertilisation programme for the 2016/17 cocoa season.
COCOBOD has however reacted to the Minority’s claims, stating that it is not true that they are working against the welfare of cocoa farmers. ‘We wish to assure our cherished farmers that management is putting in place measures that will reduce our over-dependence on foreign buyers in the determination of cocoa prices’, a press statement from COCOBOD said.