The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said cocoa farmers are experiencing the most terrible time under the Akufo-Addo administration.
At a press conference to respond to a challenge thrown out by the President, the NDC said as far as the cocoa sector is concerned, the Akufo-Addo administration has no “credible record to even merit any comparison with the legacy of President Mahama and the NDC.
“Cocoa farmers today are far worse off than they were under President Mahama and the NDC. Cocoa output has declined steadily, whilst all major projects in the cocoa sector have taken a nosedive since President Akufo-Addo assumed office.
The comment comes after the President demanded to prove from the NDC that cocoa production improved during the John Mahama administration.
President Akufo-Addo spoke at a durbar at the Wassa East District capital, Daboasewhere he said former President Mahama squandered the gains achieved under his predecessor and former boss, the late John Evans Atta Mills.
“We are challenging them to come and tell us what they have done to boost cocoa production’ he charged as election 2020 approaches.
“I can tell you in advance what they have done, zero,” the President said.
Outlining their own achievements, the Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food and Agriculture, Eric Opoku indicated it was during President Mahama’s tenure that the free fertilization of cocoa farms policy was introduced – 2013/2014.
This he said was repeated in 2015 and 2016 to boost cocoa production.
“This game-changing programme was what culminated in Ghana achieving its second-highest annual cocoa production of 969,000 metric tonnes for the 2016/2017 cocoa season under President Mahama as captured at paragraph 403 of the NPP’s own 2018 Budget statement.”
According to the Asunafo South MP, it was during President Mahama’s administration that the free distribution of Cocoa Hybrid Seedlings to cocoa farmers was introduced.
Under this programme, the MP said COCOBOD expanded the Seedlings Nursery Sites from 28 Sites to 330 Nursery Sites from 2014 to 2016.
“In all, about 4000 labourers were engaged during the various Cocoa Seasons at the Nursery Sites. It has to be emphasised that during the 2014/2015 Cocoa Season, 50 Million Hybrid Cocoa Seedlings were raised and distributed free of charge to farmers.
“During the 2015/2016 Cocoa Season, 60 million Hybrid Cocoa Seedlings were raised and distributed free of charge to farmers. In the 2016/2017 Cocoa Season, another 60 million Hybrid Cocoa Seedlings were raised for free distribution to farmers,” he added.
Instead of admitting that he has failed cocoa farmers and completely mismanaged Ghana’s cocoa sector, President Akufo-Addo, he said, “continues to display insincerity and complete lack of sympathy for the plight of the poor cocoa farmer.”
President Akufo-Addo’s claim on annual cocoa production
The MP said claims by President Akufo-Addo on annual cocoa production in the country which he said moved from 350,000 metric tonnes in 2000 to 750,000 tonnes at the end of 2008 are “the product of ignorance on the part of the president.
Mr Opoku said the president was misled by his handlers.
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“The first highest yield of 1 million tonnes of cocoa was realized under the Mills/Mahama NDC administration in 2010/2011 cocoa season. The second-highest annual cocoa production of 969,000 metric tones took place under the watch of President Mahama in the 2016/2017 cocoa season.
“This fact can be verified at paragraph 403 of the NPP’s own 2018 Budget Statement presented to Parliament. So where did President Akufo-Addo get his figures from? Who misled our President this time around? Your guess is as good as mine.”