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03.06.2007 General News

De-politicise mass cocoa spraying exercise -MPs


Alhaji Collins Dauda, NDC- Asutifi South on Friday called on the Ghana COCOBOD to put in place the Village Task Force (VTF) which oversees the implementation of the mass cocoa spraying exercise.

He said the COCOBOD has the potential of containing the over-politicization of the mass spraying exercise and prevent stealing, corruption, favouritism and waste that currently permeates the system.

Alhaji Dauda said this in a statement he made on the floor of Parliament to bring attention to the situation that bedeviled the exercise.

He argued that while spraying gangs have been put in place in some parts of the cocoa growing areas, the farmers are not aware of this structural arrangement for the establishment of the Task Forces.

He questioned why some District Chief Executives, apart from being the political heads are also heads of the District Task Force with oversight responsibility of the task forces.

The Asutifi South MP was emphatic about the situation saying that when he checked to his surprise that not only were some task forces not in place in his constituency and others, but cocoa farmers had the insecticides sold to them.

Alhaji Dauda said he was making the statement also to examine the exercise in view of improving it for the benefit of the country's hard working cocoa farmers.

The exercise was introduced in 2001 and intended to deal basically with the black pod disease and CAPSID.

The coverage was for the entire Brong Ahafo Region, parts of Western Region, and the Volta Region.

For CAPSID, the control was for the Central and Eastern Regions, parts of Ashanti Region and parts of Western Region.

Alhaji Dauda said 564.9 billion cedis was spent on the exercise in the 2005/2006 cocoa season and 479.91 billion cedis has been set aside in the current 2006/2007 season from the FOB value of cocoa on the programme.

“These are colossal sums of money spent by government on behalf of cocoa farmers and therefore deserve a critical examination,” he said.

Contributing to the statement, Mr Sampson Ahi, NDC-Juabeso described the exercise as very important to farmers and must not be politicized in any way.

He regretted that too many NPP party activists were serving as chairmen of the task forces and expressed the hope that the appeal by Alhaji Dauda would be heeded to.

“This is why I wish to support the appeal that COCOBOD steps into the fray and sort things out.”

Mr. Balado S. K. Manu, NPP- Ahafo Ano South, protested claims that the spraying gangs were chaired by NPP activists, arguing, “there is nothing wrong with government doing away with persons who do not share its vision and indeed work against government programmes.”

Source: GNA