Outspoken NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo South, Eric Opoku is at it again; this time round, he punches holes into recent producer price of cocoa announced by President Nana Addo- Dankwah Akufo – Addo.
The MP who also doubles as Ranking Member on Agriculture in Parliament did not spare the COCOBOD and its Chief Executive Officer(CEO) Joseph Boahen Aidoo, while delving into issues on global Cocoa prices and developments therein.
According to him there have been vast discrepancies in the producer price of the commodity between the President’s and that of the COCOBOB CEO’S.
He maintained that whereas the President’s producer price rests on GH¢ 1308, representing 70.5%, that of the CEO hovers around GH¢ 1255, representing 70.03%.
Mr. Eric Opoku made these assertions at Dadiesoaba in the Asunafo South Constituency in the Ahafo Region last Wednesday, September 12, 2023.
Mr. Opoku together with the Minority Caucus in Parliament had converged in the auditorium of the Church of Pentecost there with Chiefs, Queen Mothers, Farmer – groups and party faithful to be briefed on current developments vis-à-vis the recent producer price as announced by the President, Nana Akufo- Addo in what was termed Cocoa Farmers and media encounter on the theme “Cocoa Sector stake holder’s management”.
According to the President, the price increment first in 50 years, was the highest in the West African sub – Region. This position was however rebutted fiercely by Eric Opoku, who maintained that this was a palpable lie.
According to him, this year should be the happiest in the history of Ghanaian Cocoa farmers. This, he said was due to the fact that Cocoa beans had come into short scarcity on the world market because global demand had outstripped global supply.
He maintained that Ghana’s Cocoa being the best in the world Ghana is given a premium of $4300 per tons. Subsequently if Ghanaian the Cocoa farmer should enjoy most, it is this year. However, the producer price as announced by the President is most unfair and short priced for the Ghanaian cocoa farmers.
According to him, even with the June Cocoa price, a tons of cocoa is supposed to be sold on the world market for $25,015 and a bag of it should be sold for 2500 Ghana Cedis for the farmer.
He bemoaned that instead; government had taken a chunk of it, 58.2% and given the farmer about 42%. He stated that the GH¢ 1308 given farmers is short listed and that farmers should insist on their right price, which the NDC Caucus in Parliament will pursue till Justice is done farmers.
Hon. Eric Opoku intimated that instead of the NPP Government giving the farmer the desired amount, it has become the reverse with the farmer getting less while Government takes the chunk of it.
COCOBOD RUN LOSES SINCE 2017, YET….
According to Eric Opoku, COCOBOD under the management of the current CEO, Joseph Boahen Aidoo had been recording loses since 2017. Yet it has been paying bonuses and building houses for the staff of COCOBOB, while farmers who toil and moil to produce the commodity wallow in poverty.
He revealed that even as at September 11, 2023 the World Market price for a ton of Cocoa was $3808 per ton. So plus the premium, a ton could hit over $4000, for which farmers need better treatment. “The NPP Government had not dealt well and fairly with Ghanaian farmer at all! “He said, attracting cheers and applause from the agitated farmers around.
FARMERS DENIED BONUSES, FERTILIZERS, INSECTICIDES BY NPP
The Ranking Member stated that since coming into power in 2017, the NPP has refused to pay bonuses to farmers and also refused to continue with the free supply of fertilizers, insecticides and mass spraying exercise during the NDC era.
He said because of this, free fertilizers that were marked not for sale, were left to rot when NPP came to power, it made these fertilizers got rotting thereby incurring huge sums as contained in pages 255 and 260 of the Auditor General Report.
IMF, EU halt cocoa road projects – NDC
Mr Eric Opoku, Ranking Member on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs has maintained that during the NDC era, government used proceeds from Cocoa on the construction of Cocoa roads, school buildings, solar energy, the extension of electricity to deprived communities and many more.
However, with the advent of the NPP, things have been messed up so much that government has gone bankrupt owing over 44 metric tons of cocoa.
And it is against this background that government has opened this year’s season in September instead of October. And without coming to Parliament for prior approval of the syndicated loan for the purchase of cocoa this season, COCOBOD has gone ahead to open the 2023/2024 Season.
“Though the government has opened the season, it has no money to pay farmers”, he stressed.
Accordingly, the IMF and ICCO have sanctioned the NPP government against embarking on construction of cocoa roads, payment of bonuses and free supply of fertilizers and insecticides, a situation which has declined cocoa production in the country.
He said the decline had been compounded by the influx of buyers of cocoa from Togo and La Cote d’Ivoire, buying both dry and wet cocoa beans at higher prices.
Also depreciation of the cedi and rise in exchange rate had made nonsense of the so called increment as against the NDC era, when farmers could make better use of their producer prices.
All efforts to get the version of COCOBOB proved futile as in the absence of the CEO, Fiifi Head of Public Relations said he was attending meeting and therefore could not avail himself.
S. O. Ankamah Dadiesoaba/Ghanamps.com