… As He Throws Stone In Glasshouse
It has emerged that, the Minority Spokesperson on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who recently took on President John Mahama, over his claim that the cocoa industry is thriving, is not a clean man.
He is reported to be cheating many Ghanaian coffee farmers; the reason why the country’s coffee industry is crawling and almost dead, despite thriving in other countries and generating huge revenues into those economies.
The Herald’s information is that, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who years ago, strangely bought vast coffee plantations belonging to Ghana Cocoa Board by the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), has not being paying any good price to the coffee farmers, thus their growing lack of interest in the business.
Since venturing into the coffee industry as both a farmer and private buyer for export, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, gives no bonus or incentive packages to the poor farmers. It is also not clear, if he has been paying the required taxes on his export business.
Interestingly, their counterparts Cocoa Farmers annually, see increments in the price of their produce bought by COCOBOD.
For instance, Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, recently announced “last year, the average FoB per tonne of cocoa sold was US$2,900, and this year the average FoB is US$2,950 per tonne. The producer price of cocoa has been reviewed from ¢6,800 per tonne to GH¢7,600 per tonne for 2016/2017, however, Ghanaians are yet to know how much Coffee farmers are going to make in the coffee crop season”.
The board in recent times, has been given free hybrid seedlings, free fertilizers, free insecticides, free mass spraying for disease and pest control. It also increased scholarship of wards of Cocoa Farmers. All these are not available to the Coffee Farmers.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso Constituency, apart from buying the Coffee plantations, also has a private company, which buy and sell coffee beans abroad. He singlehandedly determines how much a coffee farmer is paid for his beans – a clear case of price imposition.
Meanwhile, there is confusion over which government sold the COCOBOD Coffee Farms to Dr. Afriyie Akoto under the Divestiture Implementation arrangement which started in 1987 under the Rawlings’ PNDC Military junta and continued through his NDC government, the Kufuor government, Mills government and the Mahama administration.
It is unclear, whether the Rawlings government or the Kufuor government, sold Ghana Coffee Plantation to the NPP MP and at what price.
Ironically, the NPP MP, recently said he was left dumbfounded by President Mahama’s claims during the presentation of highlights of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) manifesto, saying “I just couldn’t believe what I heard.”
“Doesn’t he realize that in the last four or five years, the volume of exports of cocoa has been going down and he says cocoa production is up,” Dr. Afriyie Akoto retorted, adding that President Mahama did not understand the cocoa industry.
“So all the crisis in the cocoa industry with farmers complaining about the fact that they don’t have inputs to work with and that the producer prices are inadequate for their needs, he hasn’t heard?”
Dr. Afriyie Akoto maintained that, cocoa production wasn’t going the way that President Mahama wanted Ghanaians to think, whilst cautioning the President to be careful about the figures he throws around about the cocoa sector.
He also took issues with the President’s targets for the coffee industry. During his presentation, President Mahama, said free coffee seedlings, would be provided to all interested farmers.
He further said, 4 million of these seedlings were already being nursed and 6,000 metric tons of coffee is currently being produced in Ghana.
The point that vexed the MP the most, was the pledge to increase the volume of coffee production to 100,000 metric tonnes as a result of this policy.
“In other areas, he made outrageous targets for coffee; that we are going to produce a 100,000 metric tonnes of coffee. Where is the President getting these figures from…? We are only doing 3000 to 4000 metric tonnes of coffee export in this country,” Dr. Afriyie-Akoto said.
He explained that, “you need at least 200, 000 hectares to be cultivated over 4, 5, 6 years and in that period you have to spend about 10 thousand dollars per hectare and we are talking about US$2 billion which is equivalent to something like GH¢10 billion in the next 4, 5 years.”
In Dr. Afriyie Akoto’s view, President Mahama’s manifesto highlights presentation only “confirms what we have always been saying that, the NDC administration is big on rhetoric and propaganda and very little on what is actually happening.”
The Herald has started combing through files at the DIC for the details of the arrangements between it and the NPP MP.
The DIC which started its work since 1987 has seen to the divestiture of a number of state owned enterprises, currently, the remaining government assets listed for divestiture are; the Abosso Glass Factory, Bonsa Tyre Factory, the Bolga Meat Factory, EREDEC Hotel, Koforidua, Catering Rest House, Bolgatanga and the GNTC House in Tamale.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, has assured cocoa farmers of government’s continuous support to enable them enhance their production.
He said, the Producer Price of Cocoa announced by government was the highest in recent times.
He gave the assurance when he interacted with cocoa farmers at Bimpong-Egya in Twifo Atti-Morkwa Constituency of the Central Region.
The programme forms part of the Vice President’s four-day campaign tour of the Region to rally for votes for the NDC to retain power in the December 7 elections.
He was accompanied by Mr. Kweku Richet Hagan, Regional Minister, Mr. Bernard Allotey Jacobs, Regional Chairman of the NDC, as well as other stalwarts of the Party.
The Veep also explained that government, had started work on the roads leading to cocoa producing areas to open up the country for development.
He said, government intended to increase cocoa production from 750,000 tons to one million tons this cocoa season.
The government was supplying cocoa farmers with new seedlings for them to replace old cocoa trees, as well as agro-chemical and fertilizers to increase the yield of the farmers.
The NDC, he continued, would not take for granted the continuous support of the people in the area for the Party.
Vice President Amissah-Athur also introduced he NDC’s parliamentary candidate for Twifo Atta-Morkwa, Mr Samuel Ato Amoah to the people.
Mr. Amissah-Athur also addressed similar rallies at Atti-Morkwa, Nyinasi all in the Twifo Att-Morkwa Constituency, as well as Wawase and Nkrofom in the Herman Lower Denyira Constituency.
More to come