Dormaa – Ahenkro, Ghana - Hundreds of cocoa farmers in July this year, flocked the premises of Cocoa Health and Extension Division of the Ghana COCOBOD to receive bags of cocoa fertilizer given by the government free in the Dormaa Municipality. When i visited the scene anxious farmers drawn from parts of the Brong – Ahafo Region of Ghana including Dormaa Central, Jaman South, Berekum West and Jaman North and the Dormaa East Districts, who at the time of the visit had not yet received their share of the COCOFEED fertiliser were spotted patiently waiting in queue to register. Cargo tracks and pick - ups were also seen busily packing and loading the bags of fertiliser for carting to the various destination of the farmers. Mr. David Afriyie Gyebi, the Municipal Cocoa Officer, Cocoa Health and Extension Division(CHED) said in an interview so far a total of 25, 960 bags of cocoa fertilizer had been distributed to qualified cocoa farmers in Dormaa – Ahenkro, while 10, 000 bags of Elit organic fertilizer has been supplied to farmers at the Dormaa East District and Dormaa Central Municipality. He added that his outfit has also received some 1000 cartons of liquid fertilizer for onward distribution to some selected and qualified cocoa farmers at the Dormaa Central Municipality, Dormaa East and Berekum West Districts as well as 300 cartons for distribution to farmers at Jaman South District and Jaman North Districts of the Brong - Ahafo Region of Ghana. Mr. Afriyie Gyebi stated that an additional consignment of 70, 000 bags of fertiliser is expected to be delivered for distribution to qualified farmers at the Jaman North, Berekum, Jaman South, Dormaa East Districts and Dormaa Central Municipality. The Municipal Cocoa Officer further said the supply of free fertilizer which started last year has been given a boost this year as a result of COCOBOD’s management’s knowledge about the shortfall experienced in the distribution patterns of the fertilizer and the urgent need to address the problem. He described the level of patronage of the fertilizer as high stressing that it has lead to the doubling of farmer’s yields. Mr. Gyebi warned those who engaged in the illegal selling of the products to desist from such acts as they would be reported, arrested and prosecuted. The Municipal Cocoa Officer indicated that a mechanism to check the selling of the fertilizer has been instituted through the inspection of fertilizer sacks in relation to the quantity given to each farmer. “If the fertilizer sacks fell below the required number given to the farmers, those farmers are reported to the Police for arrest”, he stated. He hinted that the fertilizer was given irrespective of one’s political, religious and tribal affiliation.
It’s my strong conviction that these quantities of fertilizer which the government has taken delivery of would not be diverted by some unscrupulous persons. This can derail the intention and the purposes for which it has been provided. It’s extremely important that all avenues and loopholes that encourages these negative practices are blocked by setting up checks and balances to prevent economic saboteurs from carrying out their agenda. This checks and balances must be tight and stringent enough to closely monitor the activities of those at the helm of COCOBOD, the national agency which manages, supervises and regulates the operations of cocoa farmers and the big men at the Produce Buying Companies(PBCs) as they could out of lack of integrity act in connivance with farmers or members of the public to engage in illegal selling of the fertilizer. Already, numerous reports have filtered through the news media alleging there had been illegal selling of the products in some parts of the country. This is very disturbing and atrocious at the time Ghana’s economic outlook isn’t too good, additionally, many state institutions are also struggling to be on their feet with lack of revenue to run their day-to-day administration. Junior Doctors are also striking. It doesn’t make much sense for the big men at COCOBOD or any other public officer to connive with the cocoa farmers themselves to indulge in the selling of these items, in the sense that this thwarts the government’s socio-economic objectives and drastically affect cocoa production, reduces much needed income of farmers and dwindle the national purse. In the final analysis, government is deprived of the revenue to provide infrastructural development, social amenities like schools, roads and hospitals and an improvement of the well being of the Ghanaian through salary increment of the public/civil servant. The growth of private entities or businesses are also ensured by implementation of sound policies which regulates their activities. While this effort by the government to supply free fertilizer is extremely laudable and timely, mischieve makers must spare the government and the country the agony of having to suspend the sustenance of this initiative as something which successive governments can take a cue from.