Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) does not have the money to supply fertiliser to farmers free of charge, Board Chair Hackman Owusu-Agyemang has said.
Under the erstwhile Mahama administration, cocoa farmers were supplied free fertiliser to help boost their crops and, by extension, the cocoa sector.
However, the free fertiliser policy was cancelled by the New Patriotic Party government upon coming into office in 2017.
Explaining why the policy was reviewed under the Akufo-Addo-led government, Mr Owusu-Agyemang said COCOBOD could not afford to dish out freebies to farmers.
He said: “What we did was to say the farmers will pay 50 per cent and we’ll pay 50 per cent. What we realised was that COCOBOD did not have enough money to get fertiliser and give to everybody free, we didn’t just have the money.”
He explained further: “What I have come to realise is that, when you give something free of charge to individuals, they misuse it, they sell it, they smuggle it across and the rest.
“As a politician, when I was doing my politics, I never gave my t-shirts out free of charge; never, not once, because when you give it to them free of charge they don’t value it, they throw it away, so, if the thing is GHS5, I tell them pay GHS1 and once they’ve paid GHS1 they will handle it well.
“And, so, once they’ve contributed to it, they will handle it better and then we have more money to buy adequate fertiliser to serve everybody because you cannot buy fertiliser and say you are giving it to these people and, sometimes, even its distribution becomes political and unless we Africans begin to think that we have one nation, one people, and that we should all do what’s right, there are instances that they say ‘this man is this party, so, he didn’t get because it’s free’, and then those who were handling it themselves were less than honest in this free thing…”
Mr Owusu-Agyemang admitted that although selling the fertiliser is not the best, it is necessary and cautioned that the issue should not be politicised.
“It’s not the best of situation but there’s nowhere that these things are given free of charge. I believe in all situations you must look at the system that would be beneficial to those that are intended to be beneficial.
“Now, it has become a political issue and it shouldn’t at all. We turn to poiticise everything in this country”.
He said these in an interview on Joy News with Emefa QApawu.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the NDC, Mr John Mahama, has promised to restore the free fertiliser policy if he is re-elected President in the December 7 polls.
Source: Class FM
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