The General Manager of Asonafo North Municipal Co-operative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union Limited Mr Patrick Owusu has asked authorities to ensure that cocoa scholarships go to children and wards of cocoa farmers and not to children from affluent parents who have never set foot on any cocoa farm.
This is to ensure that farmers children benefit from the sweat of their parents who have over the years ensured the financial footing that has propelled the nation over the years. Mr Patrick Owusu has accordingly tasked the Akufo Addo’s government to put mechanism in place to identify the real farmers children for the award.
He stated this at the 7th annual general meeting held at Goaso on August 28. The conference was under the theme Sustaining Good Governance-The Role of the cocoa farmers.
In a sideline interview with Silver FM’s Akwadaa Nyame, Mr Patrick Owusu commended government for its policy on mass cocoa spraying, provisions of cocoa seedlings and and the price agreement between Ghana and Cote-D’voire but urged it to time the spraying to enable farmers reap full benefit from the exercise. He advised the government to make the farmers aware that the exercise is free and that a farmer does not have to pay money to any officials undertaking the job.
Since its introduction after independence, very little can be said about the benefit of Cocoa Board Scholarship to farmers wards. Accusations of diversion of scholarships to children of ministers, top public servants and people with connections in high places who have never contributed in anyway to the cultivation of the crop, have been rife and still flying about.
To add to that, the only hospital that has been financed by the Ghana Cocoa Board, called Cocoa Clinic is based in Accra and Kumasi where there are no cocoa farmers. The timing of the release of grants to the fortunate farmers children to have won the scholarship has also been criticised. The practice over the years has been that the funds are sometimes released very late to the extent the recipients derive very little benefit from them.
The outgiong president for the Association Mr Emmanuel Sarpong told the media that since 1980s the real gains of cocoa farmers from the crop has been dwindling fast to the extent that many farmers abandoned their crops, which were consumed by fire. The rest resorted to smuggling their crops to neighbouring countries for higher prices. The studies partly attributed the trend to low producer prices and lack of motivation.
It is believed that smuggling of cocoa from Ghana to Cote D’voire is the major cause of Ghana losing her leading producer status to the Western border nation. Meanwhile the Mr Daniel Amponsah who is the current President of the Association has also called on authorities of Ghana Cocoa Board and for that matter government to give a befitting construction to roads linking the various cocoa growing communities in the country.
Scores of farmers who spoke to Silver FM are contemplating fears that the dilapidated nature of road networks which characterises the municipal plus the onset of the rainy season may adversely affect the conveyance of cocoa beans from farms and producing communities to the various marketing centers in the country.
Mr Daniel Amponsah disclosed that many cocoa farmers in the Asunafo North become highly stranded anytime there is heavy downpour since roads linking their farms become completely impassable. Thousands of tonnes of Cocoa beans and foodstuff according him are left stucked in farms and producing communities for days since drivers refuse to ply the roads let alone to access their(drivers) service. Credit: Akwadaa Nyame (Silver Fm)