Corruption hits mass cocoa spraying exercise
Essem (Western Region), Oct. 10, Chronicle - One of the best things to have happened to Ghanaian farmers under the NPP government is the re-introduction of the mass cocoa spraying exercise. Good as the exercise may be, The Chronicle’s investigation has unveiled cases of abuse by some project coordinators in the Western Region.
A section of the farmers in the Juabeso–Bia District, one of the major producing areas, have been denied the benefit of the exercise since its inception about two years ago. This is because some of the chemicals meant for the spraying have mysteriously landed in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire.
The Chronicle found out that even though the government provided the chemicals and other logistics required for a successful exercise, some officials handling the project in the region diverted the chemicals thereby denying farmers access to them.
The chief farmer of Sefwi Dedemude, near Essem, Mr. Kwaku Tanko, told The Chronicle that some officials responsible for distributing the chemicals extorted money from the farmers in most cases. Mr. Tanko therefore called for a probe into the distribution of the chemicals.
He said when the government announced the mass spraying exercise in 2001 most farmers lauded it because they thought the burden and the toil they had gone through over the years concerning the spraying of their farms were over.
“But our joy was short lived because since 2002 some of us still have no chemicals to spray our farms, despite the assurance by government that all the needed materials for the exercise had been released,” he said. “Only a probe into the distribution of the chemicals and how some of us are still struggling to get the chemicals to spray our farms will bring out the truth.”
According to the outspoken chief farmer, some of his colleagues failed to embark on personal spraying exercise hoping that they were going to benefit from the mass-spraying programme but the exercise never got to their area.
Tanko said he could not understand why some people should take advantage of a programme meant to help alleviate the problems confronting farmers, to line their pockets at the expense of the farmers.
“In fact it is now obvious that some of the people tasked by the government to lead the exercise are simply not up to the task and are out to wreck and make personal gain,” he said. The Chronicle gathered that the black pod disease has attacked and caused extensive destruction to farms in Dedemude area due to lack of spraying.