Cocoa Farmers Angry
Cocoa farmers in the Ashanti and Western regions of the country have accused the Mills administration of deliberately impoverishing them.
According to them, the government had woefully failed to improve the lot of cocoa farmers contrary to the gorgeous promises, the then candidate Mills made to them during the 2008 electioneering campaign.
The farmers contended that the current producer price of GH¢200 per cocoa bag, which the government was offering them, was woefully inadequate compared to the world market price of the commodity.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers at a forum organized by Fox FM, a Kumasi-based radio station on Tuesday, Nana Kwasi Nipa, the chief of Bibiani-Kwamekrom in the Western region, who has cultivated cocoa for many years, said the government was cheating cocoa farmers.
He criticized the government for paying meager amounts to cocoa farmers as producer price when the commodity was marvelously doing well on the world market presently.
The spokesperson indicated that it was about time politicians stopped toiling with the lives of cocoa farmers who have solely spearheaded the development of the country since independence.
Nana Nipa stated that though cocoa farmers were supposed to be living comfortably due to their contribution towards national growth, they were rather leading miserable lives.
He noted that after selling their produce to the government for onward sale on the world market, the farmers are left with no money because of the huge cost they incur during production.
'When people hear that the government has increased the producer price of cocoa they then assume that cocoa farmers have become rich which is obviously not the case because of the huge cost we incur in our production' the spokesperson explained further.
The chief said the motive behind the cocoa mass spraying exercise had been defeated under the current regime due to the over politicization of the exercise which was introduced by the erstwhile Kufuor administration to increase yield.
He claimed that the exercise had been politicized to the extent that if you not perceived to be a member of the ruling party, your cocoa farm would not be sprayed under the exercise.
Nana Nipa said some District Chief Executives (DCEs) and party gurus had been selling the chemicals in the open market.
'The exercise is not being done to us freely as the government wants the whole world to believe but it is being sponsored through a portion of our bonus yet most of us do not benefit fully,' the spokesperson emphasized.
The chief pointed out that cocoa farmers do not benefit from the so-called scholarship scheme originally designed for them and that the children of politicians and other influential people in the country enjoy the package.
'The scholarship scheme for cocoa farmers only exist in name but in reality our children do not benefit,' Nana Nipa stated, noting that because most of the farmers are illiterates they do not even know how to access the facility.
The spokesperson said another problem facing the cocoa industry was the lack of energetic labour force to carry out the rigorous work in the farms due old age of farmers.
He therefore implored the government to institute a policy to post national service personnel to major cocoa farms in the country to compliment the efforts of the aged farmers.
Nana Nipa said the measure would not increase the yield cocoa over a period and ensure that the youth would be taken through the intricacies of cocoa production so that they could take over the industry in the coming years.
From Morgan Owusu, Kumasi