Agric Minister- Designate In US$90 Million Financial Loss

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and Joseph Aidoo, COCOBOD Boss Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and Joseph Aidoo, COCOBOD Boss

It is emerging that, the Minister of Food and Agriculture nominee, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has not been truthful on the purchase of some slashers for Ghanaian Cocoa farmers, when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament for vetting.

A total of US$90 million, has been paid by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) on the slashers, which has been rejected by cocoa farmers.

The Herald, is further informed that at the time of the procurement, there was no budget for them.

Dr. Afriyie Akoto, had denied knowledge of the slashers when he was confronted with the question by Eric Opoku, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo South Constituency in the Brong-Ahafo Region by putting it at the doorstep of the management of the Ghana COCOBOD.

The Herald's probe into the issue is revealing that, the deal was brokered by the Ministry under the strict supervision of the Minister.

The slashers were supplied by a company called Crop Doctor owned by Agroecom formally Amajaro.

The company is owned by an Indian called Raul, who has been boasting about his strong connection in the Akufo-Addo governement.

The Herald's information from COCOBOD is that, due to the lack of budgetary allocation for the procurement contract, it was difficult to find money to pay the Crop Doctor.

There was therefore a huge confusion over the contract, leading to petitions to the Office of the President for its intervention for Crop Doctor to be paid.

The idea behind the procurement was for the slashers to be sold to Ghanaian cocoa farmers for about GHC6, 000, but the farmers have refused to purchase the petrol-powered machines with pruners, because they are unsuitable for their operations.

The farmers, have argued that they preferred their traditional cutlasses which they could use on the cocoa trees, anytime it was demanded that they are pruned, something the expensive and heavy slashers, could not do.

The idea of fueling the machines with petrol, is also another setback for the slashers, and in this regard, the farmers are not buying them and so they are rusting away.

The slashers were bought from the Crop Doctor under restrictive conditions, hence no competitive tendering was done to select the best option if they were needed at the time.

More so, ahead of the procurement, there was a lack of need assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture and COCOBOD with farmers' groups to determine their suitability for the intended purpose.

The machines were just bought and foisted on COCOBOD by the Agric Minister to be pushed onto the farmers, who have since rejected it.

Insiders have described the procurement as a waste of public money, insisting a consultation process could have determined that the farmers did not need the slashers and that they were more comfortable with their traditional cutlasses.

Source: www.theheraldghana.com