The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has chided National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) for playing petty politics with government’s decision to maintain the current producer price of cocoa for the 2018/19 cocoa season.
A statement from the ministry expressed shock at the partisan stance of the NDC members of the Food, Agriculture & Cocoa Affairs Select Committee of Parliament and their handling of the critical national issue.
It said “the general principle underlying the determination of the producer price of cocoa is to pay the farmer a minimum price of 70 per cent of the net Free On Board (FOB) achieved in the world market, therefore, we don’t have any NPP or NDC formula but rather a universal formula.”
Government, last Monday, announced that the producer price for cocoa for this crop season would be maintained at GH¢475 per bag.
It said it’s unable to increase price of cocoa due to the depreciation of the cedis against major foreign currencies and decline in the price of cocoa on the world market.
But the Minority travelled to Goaso in the Brong Ahafo Region to hold a political show to politicize the issue, accusing government of being insensitive to the plight of cocoa farmers.
They claimed COCOBOD ought to reduce its high operational cost and channel the funds to farmers.
But the ministry criticized the NDC MPs’ handling of the matter. They were part of the Parliamentary Committee that unanimously approved the syndicated loan of $1.3 billion for the purchases of 2018/2019 crop season.
The statement said comments by the Minority were geared towards creating the wrong partisan impression.
The statement hinted that New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, in keeping faith with cocoa farmers, maintained the producer price of GH¢475 per bag in the 2017/18 crop season to ensure that the universal formula of paying a minimum of 70 per cent is preserved.
“In this year, cocoa price on the world market sunk as low as $2,080 at the exchange rate of GH₵4.40 while a tonne is sold for GH¢9,152, and yet the Akufo-Addo government is keeping faith with the farmer by maintaining the 2016/17 price of GH¢475 per bag,” the statement said.
It said in the current year for which the Minority MPs are making outrageous statements, the world market price is $2,200 which translates into GH¢10,560 at the exchange rate of GH¢4.8.
This, the statement said, means paying the farmer the same GH₵7600/MT or GH¢475 per bag, which translate into 72 per cent of the FOB price.
“The NPP government maintained the cocoa price at GHC7600/MT to show the government’s commitment in improving the welfare of the Ghanaian cocoa farmer.”
The statement said the NDC paid cocoa farmers 65.22 percent in the 2016/17 crop season, which was below the universal minimum of 70 percent.
“If we are to admit their inclusion of premium rate in the calculation at their ridiculous $350, it would mean NDC were paying the farmer 57.12%. This is why they instituted the sham Stabilization Fund Account, which was depleted by Opuni’s administration, before leaving office, including the balance on the $1.8 billion loan,” it said.
It also debunked reports that the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) had increased its administrative costs to the detriment of the cocoa farmers.
“It is worthy to note that workers in the cocoa industry have not received any pay increase for the past three years. The Cocoa Marketing Board has rather reduced the Chief Executives’ remuneration by 30%. Therefore, it’s very misleading for the Minority to create such wrong unfortunate partisan impression,” it added.
It disclosed that COCOBOD has put in place productivity improvement schemes such as spraying, fertilization, subsidy and hand pollination aimed at increasing the current 450kg/ha to 1,500kg/ha.
“Currently, some farms are recording 36 bags or 2.25mt/ha, and this is what farmers should and must be educated and encouraged to focus to improve their livelihood,” the statement added.
Source: Daily Guide