President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Tuesday advised his predecessor John Mahama to respect the intelligence of Ghanaians and stop touting falsehood as facts.
Addressing a durbar of Chiefs at Daboase, in the Wassa East district of the Western Region, on the first day of his tour of the Region, he said the former president ought not to lay claims to things he had not done during his time in office.
President Akufo-Addo said the claim by Mr Mahama that his administration had instituted measures to improve the lot of cocoa farmers was factually incorrect.
He challenged him to name a single policy his erstwhile government introduced to boost the production of cocoa in the country.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the government of President Kufuor moved cocoa production from some 350,000 metric tonnes at the end of the year 2000 to 750,000 tonnes at the end of 2008, and had projected Ghana’s cocoa production to hit the million metric tonnes by 2010, a feat which was realized under the late President Mills.
“President Mahama came to meet a production level of one million tonnes, and yet, by the end of his tenure, it had dropped to barely 700,000 tonnes.
“Today, under my Government, it has risen to 900,000 tonnes, and yet you (Mahama) are going around, offering fake solidarity to the cocoa farmers, shedding crocodile tears in front of cocoa farmers, that you have done something to improve the lot of cocoa farmers. These are crocodile tears,” the President said.
His government, the President said had introduced policies such as the hand pollination, mass pruning of cocoa trees using motorized pruners, early spraying of cocoa farms, motorized slashers to replace the use of machetes, and the piloting of irrigation schemes for cocoa farms to ensure all year-round production.
He dared the National Democratic Congress (NDC) “to come and tell us what they have done that is boosting agricultural and cocoa production in Ghana.”
“I can tell you the answer in advance – Zero! Zero! Zero.”
Touching on the road sector, President Akufo-Addo said “whenever I travel across the country, the first thing the people of Ghana complain about is the state of their roads, even though you (Mahama) claim to have fixed those same roads”.
“If you (Mahama) truly fixed the roads, why are Ghanaians constantly complaining to me with the state of their roads?”, he quizzed, saying,” the simple answer to that questions is that you (Mahama) did not speak the truth to Ghanaians. You didn’t do the work you said you had done. We are the ones who are doing the work, so give us space to do it, instead of touting falsehoods.”
Mr Joseph Boahen Addo, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, said the administration of President Akufo-Addo spent the first two years in office clearing the arrears inherited from the Mahama government.
He claimed that when former President Mahama lost the 2016 elections, he hurriedly expended some US $400 million that was in the COCOBOD’s account.
“We came into office, and spent the first two years to clear all the arrears inherited from the Mahama administration.
“The process of constructing cocoa roads is about to begin. Government has approved the disbursement of GH¢3 billion to construct 350 cocoa roads across the country. Secondary evacuation roads, i.e. trunk roads, are also going to be constructed,” he added.
Mr Aidoo said though Mr Mahama’s claim to fame in the cocoa sector was the introduction of free fertilizers, the introduction of the policy led to a reduction of Ghana’s production capacity from one million tonnes in 2010/2011 to 740,000 metric tonnes in 2016.
“Whilst Cote d’Ivoire, in 2010, was producing 1.1 million tonnes of cocoa, they increased the production of cocoa to 1.8 million tonnes, even though fertilizer is not distributed to their farmers free of charge.
“The free fertilizer policy hasn’t helped Ghanaian farmers. Upon assuming office in 2017, we revisited the old policy of subsidized fertilizers, mass cocoa spraying exercise, and introduced the hand pollination system, and, in 2017/2018, we produced 968,000 tonnes of cocoa,” Mr Aidoo added.
The COCOBOD CEO said Government had also reintroduced the policy scrapped by President Mahama in 2014 of supporting cocoa farmers who had cocoa farms infected by the swollen-shoot virus disease.
“Government is absorbing the absolute cost of rehabilitation of the farms – cost of cutting the trees, replanting and the foodstuffs being planted in the farms.
“COCOBOD maintains the farm for the first two years – the critical stages of the farm. Additionally, for every one hectare of cocoa farms infected with the swollen-shoot disease cleared, the farmer is compensated with GH¢1,000.00. If the farmer is a share-cropper, the land owner also receives GH¢1,000.00,” he added.
Mr Aidoo assured cocoa farmers that, from 2020/2021 cocoa season, every tonne of cocoa beans from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire that would be sold on the international market would attract an additional $400 as a living income differential for farmers.
The US$400 million living income differential would be added to the prevailing price of the crop, of which 70 per cent would be paid to the farmer at the farm gate.
“For instance, today, the price is US$2,300. So, $400 will be added to make it US$2,700, and 70 per cent (US$1,890 or GH¢10,017) of the total will be paid to the farmer. This is unprecedented in Ghana’s cocoa industry,” he added