Mr Richard Ahiagbah, the Communications Director of the Governing New Patriotic Party NPP, has responded to the Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress NDC, John Dramani Mahama, and NDC comments on government-shortchanged cocoa farmers.
Former President John Dramani Mahama claimed that the government has been shortchanged by the event increase in farm-gate prices of Cocoa.
In a Facebook post on Monday, September 11, John Mahama argued that given the international market price of cocoa reaching a 46-year record high of $3,600, the government should have provided cocoa farmers with a more equitable share of the international FOB price.
Mahama pointed out that during his tenure in 2016, his government, in addition to the free fertilizer and free cocoa seedlings program, allocated cocoa farmers 66.06% of the FOB Price of cocoa.
He noted that the NPP administration should have built upon this foundation but instead “have rather increased the operational expenses of COCOBOD and reduced the international FOB share for the farmers.
According to Mr. Ahiagbah, the post by Former President John Dramani Mahama was shrouded in error and generated some level of misconceptions and miscommunications from the public.
He said the claim by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the Government has shortchanged cocoa farmers is false and cannot be supported by actual events on the grounds.
The Director of Communications, Richard Ahiagbah, addressed a press conference to refute the NDC’s assertions, pointing out that the NDC government had announced a producer price of $1,800 or GH6,800 per tonne, or 61.71% of the gross FOB of $2,950 per tonne for the 2015–16 season.
“Indeed, all stakeholders in the cocoa industry, including Farmers and the Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP), have all expressed joy and satisfaction at the new price and have commended the government for staying true to its words. Therefore, anyone claiming that the Government has shortchanged cocoa farmers will be doing so only for political expediency but not based on facts”.
“You all know by now that the amount that President Akufo–Addo announced on Saturday has been greeted by farmers across this country with joy and excitement because they realize that for 50 years in this country, nobody has paid them this huge amount. Why suddenly does the NDC think that we should pay them more? Why they couldn’t pay the more.”
According to him, all stakeholders including farmers and the Ghana civil society, cocoa platform, have all expressed joy and satisfaction and the new price that was at the new price and commended the government for staying true to gate works. Therefore, any claim by anybody that this government has shortchanged farmers is the claim on the basis of political interests and out of political expedient.
Adding that the NDC talked about a decline in yields. Well, they are to blame. It is also highly disingenuous on the part of the NDC to blame the current administration for a decline in cocoa production when they know that they contributed to the unfortunate situation.
The decision by the then management to suspend the treatment of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Viral Disease (CSSVD), resulting in many cocoa farms being attacked by the viral disease, is the root cause of Ghana’s decline in production.
“It would be recalled as a result of the NDC government’s decision to withdraw support to farmers in treating the CSSVD in the Western Region, and as a result that action yields dropped significantly from 346,000 metric tons to below 140,000 metric tons.
Today, the management of COCOBOD, through the support of the Government led by President Akufo Addo, has been able to restore most of these farms, which were plagued by diseases under the NDC, through the Cocoa Rehabilitation Program,” he hinted.
These farms are expected to yield positive results in the next few years and help increase Ghana’s production capacity. Other social interventions are also currently being implemented for the benefit of cocoa farmers in the country.”
According to Mr.Ahiagbah, It is also not an accurate claim by the NDC that COCOBOD started incurring losses only when the NPP assumed power in 2017.
Adding that under the previous administration of the NDC, COCOBOD also made similar losses. In 2016, before the NPP took over power, COCOBOD, under the regime of the NDC led by President Mahama, caused significant losses of about $19 billion or more.
He pointed out that under the NPP administration, Ghana recorded its highest-ever production of one million and forty-five thousand five hundred metric tonnes (1,045,500) in the 2020/21 Crop Season. It is, therefore, not accurate when the NDC claims that the NPP has a poor track record in cocoa production.
“In fact, in their case in 2009, when the country recorded a million tonnes, it was due to the ripple effects of the interventions introduced by the then NPP administration under President John Agyekum Kufuor.”
He stated categorically that no other cocoa-producer country supports formers with interventions, like the Cocoa Rehabilitation Program, Mass Pruning, Hand Pollination, Mass Spraying, Fertilizer Subsidy Program, and Free Seedlings, as is the case in Ghana. As such, cocoa farmers in all those other countries bear the total cost of production.
Report By Bernard K DADZIE