The Minority caucus on the Food and Agriculture Committee of Parliament has berated the decision by the Akufo-Addo government to increase the farmgate price of cocoa beans at GHs1,308.00, for the 2023/2024 season, describing it as a cheat on the cocoa farmers.
The government on September 9, announced a 63.6% upward adjustment of the farm gate price of cocoa beans from GH₵800 to GH₵1,308 per bag for the new cocoa season.
According to President Akufo-Addo, who made the announcement, the increment is the highest in West Africa in the last 15 years.
The president made the announcement at Tepa in the Ashanti Region during the opening of the 2023/2024 cocoa season.
But the Minority caucus, who thinks otherwise, at a press conference at Dabiasoba in the Goaso Municipality of the Ahafo Region said the increment is a total rip-off as cocoa farmers would remain worse off than they were seven (7) years ago under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
Speaking to farmers at the Dabiasoaba Church of Pentecost Auditorium, the Ranking Member of the Food and Agriculture Committee, Hon Eric Opoku said, “The Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP government has shortchanged Ghanaian cocoa farmers and that the announced increment in the farmgate price of cocoa to GH₵1,308 is a total rip-off.
According to him, cocoa farmers would continue to remain worse off than they were seven (7) years ago under the NDC/Mahama government.
While addressing the cocoa farmers on the price of cocoa, Hon Opoku, explained that the Spot Price of cocoa on the international market has surged to a record high of about $3,600 per metric ton as of 31st August 2023. This price is the highest since 1977- that is, in the last 46 years.
He said, per calculation, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government is retaining a whopping GH₵1,516 while giving the poor cocoa farmer only GH₵1,308 per bag of cocoa, stressing that, “this reality further highlights the insensitivity and wickedness of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government which has dealt a raw deal to cocoa farmers since coming into office.
“The evidence points to the fact that the Akufo-Addo administration has the worst record in terms of increases in cocoa prices in Ghana as they are the first government in the history of the Fourth Republic which refused to increase the farmgate price of cocoa for three consecutive seasons – 2019/2022, 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 cocoa seasons”.
Hon Opoku, who is also MP for Asunafo South, slammed the government for being ‘insensitive and wicked’ to the plight of Ghanaian cocoa farmers.
For instance, he said the evidence shows that with a farmgate price of GH₵475 per ton of cocoa in 2016 under the NDC/Mahama government, a cocoa farmer could purchase 18 bags of cement at an average unit cost of GH₵26.00. Yet today, that same cocoa farmer even with the recently-announced price of GH₵1,308 can only purchase 15 bags of cement at an average unit cost of GH₵85.
The Ghanaian Cocoa farmer, he believed deserves better than what they are getting currently where a bag of cocoa beans has moved from GHc 800) to GHc 1,308),a situation he said is a complete robbery by the government.
“In all sincerity, every cocoa farmer should have been given at least GHC2,500 per bag. So the question is, where the remaining GHs 1,500.00 is,” Hon Opoku said.
The Minority Leader, Dr. Ato Forson, insisted that the government should have given the cocoa farmer 65% of the international Free on Board (F.O.B) price as promised in the 2023 mid-year budget review statement.
In his considered view, “Given the fact that this government failed to increase the farmgate price for all these years despite high inflation, we hold the view that this government should have given the cocoa farmer at least 65% of the international F.O.B price as they promised in the 2023 mid-year budget review statement.”
“One would have expected that with this historic increase in the international market price of cocoa, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP government would have given our hard-working farmers their fair share. Sadly, this government has once again decided to shortchange the already-impoverished cocoa farmer.”
“The announced farm-gate price of GH₵1,308 per bag of cocoa constitutes a paltry 52.7% of the Free-On-Board Price of cocoa on the international market, as against the 66% of FOB Price which was given to cocoa farmers for the 2016/2017 cocoa season by the NDC/Mahama government,” he maintained.
Dr. Ato Forson said, the evidence points to the fact that the Akufo-Addo administration has the worst record in terms of increases in cocoa prices in Ghana as they are the first government in the history of the Fourth Republic that refused to increase the farmgate price of cocoa for three consecutive seasons – 2019/2022, 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 cocoa seasons.
“Given the fact that this government failed to increase the farmgate price for all these years despite high inflation, we hold the view that this government should have given the cocoa farmer at least 65% of the international F.O.B price as they promised in the 2023 mid-year budget review statement.”
“Despite, the recent increase in the farmgate price, the cocoa farmer is worse off today due to the alarmingly high rate of inflation which currently stands at 43.1% as of July 2023. The ever-rising rate of inflation has eroded and continues to erode the purchasing power of cocoa farmers,” the Minority Leader added..
He argued that, in 2016 farmgate price of GH₵475, Ghanaian farmers could purchase for themselves two packets of roofing sheets at an average unit cost of GH₵220 and leave him with a change of GH₵35 for incidental expenses.
However, even with the recently announced price of GH₵1,308, the farmer could only afford one packet of roofing sheets at an average unit cost of GH₵1,200.
He noted that, with a farmgate price of GH₵475 in 2016, the government of President Mahama and the NDC were giving the cocoa farmer free fertilizer, but today, the cocoa farmer has to buy fertilizer which is written ‘Strictly Not for Sale’ at an average unit cost of GH₵500.00.
The worst of all, the Minority argued is the fact that prices of Weedicides have gone up astronomically such that today the price of “Akate Master” which used to be about GH₵30.00 in 2016 is today being sold at GH₵100.00, while “Condemn” which used to be sold at about GH₵10.00 is now selling at about GH₵45.00.
The Minority leader said, unlike the NDC/Mahama government, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP government has canceled the payment of bonuses to cocoa farmers since it took office in 2017, pointing to the fact that, the government has rather been paying bonuses to staff of Cocobod at the time Cocobod is incurring huge losses.
The Minority therefore called on cocoa farmers across the country not to be enthused by the farmgate price announced by the President as they are been shortchanged.
Some of the farmers, who participated in the press conference organized by the Minority, believed the move by the government on the new producer price was politically tainted.
They claimed some of them had worked for the Cocoa Board of Ghana (COCOABOD) for months without pay and wondered why the government had money to increase the producer’s price but could not pay them for work done.
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