A Berekum-based cocoa farmer, Thomas Amo Amankwaa has been narrating to the High Court in Accra how his production jumped from 1,600kg of cocoa beans to 4,600kg when he applied Lithovit liquid fertilizer.
This is to justify the efficacy of Lithovit liquid fertilizer, which is a clear contradiction to the prosecution’s claim that the product did not give the state value for money.
“Lithovit liquid fertiliser is the most effective fertiliser I have ever used,” Mr. Amankwah touted in court on Wednesday, May 25.
The witness has four different cocoa farms: Two of the farms are located at Subronou in the Ahafo region: one at Biadian covers an area of 13.6 acres; there is another one at Yaakrom in the Dormaa West District and covers an area of 21 acres.
He is the second cocoa farmer who has given testimony that seeks to prove the innocence of the three accused persons facing about 25 criminal charges.
The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni, and businessman Seidu Agongo as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, are being trialed for allegedly defrauding by false pretenses, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers, and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
The defense witness, therefore, asserted, “I can say on authority that it is false for anyone to claim that lithovit liquid fertiliser was not effective”.
Mr. Thomas Amo Amankwaa has been farming cocoa for the past 20 years as the only source of livelihood for him and his family upon his return from the UK where he went to pursue further studies.
Under cross-examination by counsel for Seidu Agongo, lawyer Emmanuel Kumardzi, holding brief for Benson Nutsukpui, the witness was asked: “So naturally, if anything threatened this source of income you will not take it lightly. Isn’t it?”
The witness answered: “That is so. My lord I was born into farming, as I stated, my parents were all farmers. My lord, when I completed Senior High School, my parents sent me abroad too, the UK, to do my degree in marketing. When I completed school I came back home because my parents were into cocoa farming and I also wanted to take up cocoa farming because I like it.
“It is the only thing I do and so many chemicals that will help to better my yield, I follow it well because that is my only source of income.”
Early on, led in evidence by counsel for Dr. Opuni, lawyer Samuel Codjoe, the original copy of the witness’ passbook which contains details of all products received and the quality of cocoa produced by him as well as other information from Licenced Buying Companies was tendered in evidence.
According to him, a training was organized for some farmers including himself at kutre in the Berekum Municipality in 2015 by CHED officials.
“My lord until that time, I was using granular fertiliser. So at the training, we were introduced to how to apply liquid fertilizer such as sidalco fertilizer and litovit liquid fertilizer. The CHED officials taught us how to use the liquid fertiliser and its advantages of it.”
He added, “During 2014/2015 [cocoa season] I was supplied with sidalco fertiliser by CHED officials to be applied on my farm. That year I got 1600kg of cocoa. In the 2015/2016 [cocoa season], the CHED officials supplied other farmers including myself. My lord we were supplied with litovit liquid fertiliser and that year, my yield jumped to 4600kg of cocoa. I and the other farmers were impressed with the fertilizer. So in the following year, I together with other farmers in my area informed the officials of CHED about the effectiveness of the litovit liquid fertiliser. The quality of yield is recorded in my passbook.
In the 2017/2018 season, I together with other farmers went to the CHED office to get the litovit liquid fertiliser but we were informed by the CHED officials that the cocoa board has ceased supplying litovit liquid fertiliser.
“In the 2019/2020 season, I was supplied with cocoa fertilizer, Asaase wura, and sidalco granular fertiliser. My lord the yield I got in that year was a reduction of what I used to get.”
The trial judge, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, a justice of the Supreme Court who is sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, adjourned the case to Thursday 26th May 2022 for cross-examination to continue.