A Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of cocoa, Mr Kennedy Osei Nyarko has reiterated government’s commitment to transforming the lives of farmers in the country, especially cocoa farmers.
He told Kwame Minkah, host of Ghana te sen on Radio XYZ 93.1 that the Akufo- Addo government has cocoa farmers at heart contrary to what is being “bandied” in the media by members of the Minority in Parliament.
The Minority has been at the jugular of the government after it announced on Monday it will not be able to increase the producer price of cocoa due to the decline of the price of the commodity on the international market.
This means Ghana COCOBOD will buy the beans at GH¢7,600 per ton, the same as it did for the just ended crop season.
At a press conference in Goaso in the Brong Ahafo Region on Wednesday, Ranking Member for the Parliamentary Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Eric Opoku, jabbed the government for being “insensitive” to the plights of cocoa farmers, saying “while the cost of living is rising, the real incomes of farmers are dwindling.”
Eric Opoku, Ranking Member, Agric Committee in Parliament.
He said the real producer price diminished by 24% from 2016, after accounting for inflation which declined by 16% in 2017 and further down by 8% in 2018. He also blamed the government for ignoring the stabilization levy to the detriment of the farmers.
“Therefore, by the insensitive decision to maintain cocoa prices in these hard times, the cocoa farmer is far worse off today, than he was in 2016,” the former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister said as he accused that COCOBOD used a doctored exchange rate of 4.54% to determine the cocoa price instead of using the Bank of Ghana’s rate of 4.8%.
But the Deputy Agric minister denied such claims and likened it to political mischief.
“That is not the exchange rate COCOBOD is using. We are using the rate of 4.7 which is what we should use,” he added.
Explaining why the farmers have not been shortchanged, the Akim Swedru MP said: “the NDC government did not do pruning for farmers but we are doing pruning, hand pollination, and the good agronomics practices we have introduced has increased the farmers’ yield so if someone says the government is cheating cocoa farmers then that’s so saddening.”
Mr Osei Nyarko, who said Ghanaian cocoa farmers are the highest paid farmers for cocoa in the world, stated emphatically that there is no way the government can increase the price whereas the price at the international market has declined because government will pump money to stabilse the shortfalls during the purchasing period within the crop season.