The Ranking Member of the Food, Agriculture, and Cocoa Affairs Committee, Eric Opoku, is calling for a probe into the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme launched in 2018.
The legislator argues that the programme, which identifies diseased farms, cuts down affected trees, and replants them with disease-resistant cocoa varieties, among other measures, has failed, as the country has lost some 500,000 hectares of cocoa farms to Swollen Shoot disease.
In an interview with Umaru Sanda Amadu on Eyewitness News on Citi FM, Eric Opoku said the rollout of the programme must be investigated to identify the cause of this significant loss.
He also alleged that the funds earmarked for the programme have been exhausted, leaving cocoa farmers in a dilemma.
“I am reliably informed that we have exhausted the amount earmarked for the rehabilitation, and COCOBOD will soon hand over the farms to the farmers, even though some farms have just been cut down and not even planted and provided with plantain suckers. Once we have exhausted the resources, they intend to hand over the farms, so if, at the time of handing over, the programme is escalating to this extent, then something is wrong somewhere, and we need to interrogate that.”
Mr. Opoku further cast doubt on the assurances given by the chief executive officer of COCOBOD to ensure the programme’s continuation.
“The picture being created is very alarming, and I don’t believe in the assurances that the CEO is offering because we are in the field, and we know what is happening there.”