Cocoa farmers at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region have vented their spleen on the current Mahama administration for collapsing the cocoa industry and making life unbearable for them.
They stated that even though the cocoa sector contributes significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, the current National Democratic Congress (NDC) government had worsened the plight of operators in the sector.
The farmers alleged that over the past three years, the government had blatantly refused to release the bonuses given to them by the international cocoa communities and had entirely abandoned the cocoa mass spraying exercise.
“This current government has deliberately and consistently refused to marginally increase cocoa price despite the rapid increase in the price on the international market,” the farmers alleged.
To this end, the Forum for Accountability and Development of Sefwi (FADOS), made up of cocoa farmers, have decided to organize a massive demonstration dubbed, ‘Akate Demo’ on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at Sefwi Wiawso to register their dissatisfaction with the government.
Speaking on behalf of cocoa farmers, William Danso, Secretary to FADOS, asserted that despite the promise President Mahama made in the last State of the Nation address that he would give a minimum of 70 per cent of FOD price to farmers, the government was giving the farmers far below 49 per cent.
He indicated that there were thousands of cocoa farms in the Sefwi area that had been affected by cocoa diseases due to the lack of insecticides, spraying machines and mass spraying exercise.
“For instance as at 2008/2009, the cost of Confidor and fertilizer in the legal market was GH¢8.00 cedis and GH¢14.5 respectively last year but now the same products cost GH¢35.00 and GH¢78.00, he added.
“Because of the problems confronting cocoa farmers, COCOBOD has targeted 800,000 tonnes of cocoa even though the country had earlier recorded one million tonnes,” he stressed.
William Danso therefore called on the government to increase the price per tonne of cocoa from the current GH¢3,392 to GH¢6,696.9 and from the current GH¢212 per bag to GH¢418.5 per bag and pay the three years unpaid bonuses to the farmers.
The government should restore the mass spraying exercise by providing spraying machines, cocoa insecticides, boots, spraying spectacles, gloves, attires, they indicated.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi