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23.12.2005 Regional News

Chief farmer urges probe in the payment of cocoa bonuses

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Sunyani (B/A), Dec. 23, GNA - Nana Adjei Damoah, the 2005 Brong Ahafo Regional Chief Cocoa Farmer, has called on the government to set up a commission of enquiry to look into the procedure or guidelines governing the payment of bonuses to cocoa farmers. He also appealed to the government to come out clearly on whether money had been released for the payment of the bonuses for the 2003-04 season.

Nana Adjei Damoah, who doubles as the Regional President of the Cocoa, Coffee, Sheanut Farmers Association, was speaking to the Ghana News Agency at a meeting with some cocoa farmers in the region. He said cocoa farmers in the region were dissatisfied with the methods used by licensed buying companies in the payment of the bonuses. "We believe they haven't even paid the bonuses to the farmers. How can you leave your hotel in Sunyani and go to Krachi to effect payment of bonuses to farmers and you expect farmers in this vast region to troop there. How much was that money and what is the transport fare from Sunyani to Krachi," he said.

Nana Damoah said the cocoa industry faced an imminent threat of collapse if appropriate steps were not taken to forestall such lapses. He urged the government to change its policy on the cocoa mass spraying exercise and give funds directly to farmers to enable them to purchase fertilizer and pesticide by themselves. Nana Damoah alleged that cocoa mass spraying volunteers were selling chemicals allocated to them for the exercise and appealed to Parliament to enact laws that would give authority to district chief farmers to report any person involved in diverting such chemicals to the Police.

When contacted, an official of COCOBOD in Sunyani, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied the allegation of non-payment of cocoa bonuses to farmers in the region, saying more than 80 percent of such monies had been paid.

The official explained that there were only four out of the 12 cocoa producing districts in the region whose farmers had not been paid the bonuses.

He named the districts as Berekum, Sunyani, Hwidiem and Sankore and said they would be paid soon.

"We have retrieved the cheques of farmers who have not been paid. Outstanding cheques have been forwarded to the COCOBOD for payment to be effected.

"There were some few problems with some cheques transferred to COCOBOD but they have been solved," the COCOBOD official added.

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