Business News of Sunday, 13 January 2019
Management of Cocobod has described as worrying the recent churning out of factually inaccurate figures by ex-president John Mahama to the public, which is fraught with false conclusions meant to score political points.
“Management of Ghana Cocobod has observed with worry the apparent propensity by former president John Mahama to make false statements about Cocobod and the cocoa industry every chance he gets, and he deliberately repeats such falsehoods for political expedience even when such statements have been challenged and duly corrected by the company.”
Mr Mahama released his latest onslaught during his recent visit to parts of the newly created Western North Region as part of his re-election bid to lead the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to the 2020 general elections.
According to him, since the exchange rate changed from GH¢3.8 to a dollar in 2016 to GH¢5.0 to a dollar 2018, there should have been an automatic upward adjustment of the producer price of cocoa.
The board said that did not only create false impression but also intended to “pollute the minds of cocoa farmers, who deserve truth from all political actors.”
“One will think that having served as President of Ghana for years, Mr Mahama will know, as do many others with knowledge of how the producer price of cocoa is determined, that the price of cocoa on the world market – a key determinant of cocoa producer price – has dropped from $3,000 a tonne in 2016 to $2200 a tonne in 2018,” the statement observed, insisting that “the price in 2017 dropped to below $1,800 a tonne.”
It further indicated that “despite this fall of cocoa prices on the world market, the government has over the past two years continued to maintain the producer price at GH¢7600 per tonne, which is among the highest in the sub-region.”
On the issue of Mahama’s claim that before leaving office his administration paid for bags of fertilizer to be delivered to farmers for free and that the current management of Cocobod had not just sold the fertilizers but even allowed some to go to waste, management of the company responded: “He made this statement besides the fact that management has on multiple occasions indicated that the money for the payment of the said bags of fertilizer was never used for the intended purpose.”
However, “the new management of COCOBOD under the current government had to secure a loan from the Bank of Ghana to pay for and take delivery of the fertilizer after April 2017.”
“Management wishes to state that while the policy of giving free bags of fertilizer to our hard-working cocoa farmers seems commendable, the facts gathered while assessing the policy clearly showed that the intended outcome was NOT achieved,” they insisted.
Rather than increasing cocoa production, management of Cocobod insisted “the policy led to a drop in production” and that “many bags of the free fertilizer ended up in the hands of farmers outside of Ghana and other national actors, who were not politicians, rather benefited from the policy leading to the fall in cocoa yields from over a million tonnes to about 740,000 tonnes in a year.”
After introducing corrective measures to the policy, which only increased the cost of operations of Cocobod without commensurate benefits, the statement said “management decided to revert to the policy of subsidizing the fertilizer for our farmers”, which led to sustained growth in production over the past two years to the current 900,000 tonne, with a further growth expected this year.
According to them, “it is also not a statement of fact that bags of fertilizer have been left across the country to expire. Indeed, the bags of fertilizer found to be close to expiration were promptly given out to farmers to assist those who had pollinated their farmers.”