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05.07.2005 General News

Plight of cocoa farmers is very horrible - MP

GNA

Accra, July 5, GNA - Mr Ernest Kofi Yakah, NDC MP for New Edubiase on Tuesday called on the government to save the cocoa industry by bettering the lot of cocoa farmers.

He said cocoa farmers lived below the poverty line though they were the producers of a major foreign exchange earner of the country. Mr Yakah made this appeal in a statement on the mass spraying exercise and the plight of farmers at New Edubiase.

"The plight of cocoa farmers is very horrible and looking at the houses that they live in, water that they drink, feeder roads leading to their communities, one would realise that most cocoa farmers are really suffering."

The MP suggested to government to institute a special insurance scheme for cocoa farmers so that at old age they can enjoy the fruit of their labour.

"Again, in case of bush fire disaster, the farmer can be assured to get assistance for survival. "It is sad to note that the Cocoa Board Scholarship meant for wards of cocoa farmers are not properly managed because only few of them benefit from the scheme with the greater part going to children of non-cocoa farmers."

Mr Yakah suggested that the scheme be reviewed so that the children of cocoa farmers would enjoy about 90 per cent of the scholarship benefit.

On the mass spraying exercise, Mr Yakah said for the exercise to yield maximum results, the two programmes on black pod and capsid control should be applied in all the farms since the two diseases were rampant in any cocoa growing area.

The MP, however, said if the government could not supply adequate inputs for the mass spraying exercise, then it would be better for the government to go back to the old system where inputs were sold to farmers at subsidised prices.

"Before the mass spraying exercise, one motorised machine was 1,000,000 cedis but today it is 5,000,000 cedis. One litre of insecticide (gammallin 20) was 20,000 cedis but now sells at 60,000 cedis."

"Some members of the spraying gangs needs to be commended for the marvellous job they are doing, however the few bad nuts among them steal the chemicals and sell them to agro-chemical dealers who in turn sell them to cocoa farmers at exorbitant prices."

Mr Yakah said about two years ago 17 spraying machines were stolen from his constituency but the case was still pending at the police station. 5 June 05

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