A Deputy Minister of state, Sampson Ahi has defended the Mahama-led government for pegging the producer price of cocoa at 11.76 percent describing calls for a further increment as “irrational.”

“Cocoa prices are announced based on the world international price. It’s just not that you wake up tomorrow and announce that I will pay cocoa farmers this amount; it is based on the prevailing cocoa price at the international level. It is just one factor but it is key because if a tonne of cocoa is $2950 then somebody says that pay the cocoa farmers GH600 it doesn’t make sense. That is irrational, because it doesn’t make sense that you call on government to pay GHc600,” he added.

Mr. Ahi who is the Deputy Minister of Water and Resources made the comment after a press conference held by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) on the issue.

Some cocoa farmers following the increment announced on October 1, 2016 complained that the GHc475 was too small.

Mr. Ahi said the NDC government is only implementing a policy that was also used by the NPP in determining cocoa prices.

“If you multiply 600 by 16 bags that is a tonne, you are getting about GHc9600 but the world market price even if it is $2950 and even if the exchange rate is even GhC4, you are even going to get GHc11,000. But that is not how cocoa is calculated in this country. What we have done is the same format NPP adopted when they were in office. Over the years, cocoa farmers have been paid based on net FOB price. A tonne of cocoa at the international market is $2950 that is not the benchmark successive governments have used to pay cocoa farmers. Because of uncertainty in terms of price at the international level, what they do is that when the benchmark it below the international market price. So this year for instance they used $2470 and what happen is that they deduct certain support programmes to cocoa farmers before the price is announced. That is what NPP used.”

Farmers complaining are NPP people

Sampson Ahi further accused the NPP of rallying its supporters to mount pressure on government saying it is not a representation of the cocoa farming population in the country.

“The farmers are aware that for cocoa roads, the amount is taken from the cocoa. President Kufuor started cocoa roads; he deducted certain amount from whatever he got at the international level before prices are announced. He also started mass spraying, they deducted it before the prices were announced, so we are not doing anything different. Afriyie-Akoto is just organizing some NPP people and they are talking because farmers are grateful that President Mahama has added GHc50.”

Don’t blame Akufo-Addo

The Minority Spokesperson on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Dr. Owusu Akoto-Afriyie who addressed the press accused the NDC of spreading wicked lies in cocoa growing areas that government paid low producer price of GHc475 because Nana Akufo-Addo failed to sign an agreement with international banks for government to get money to enable them offer a high producer price.

Dr. Akoto-Afriyie further entreated cocoa farmers to dismiss what he said was the vile propaganda  against Akufo-Addo saying government wass using the propaganda to cover up its failures to cocoa farmers.

“…government could not go beyond the GHc475; it has nothing to do with Nana Akufo-Addo. The executive wing of government is in charge of cocoa policy exclusively and no opposition member has any influence or whatsoever on that, not even us here as minority in Parliament, we have no influence on how much the government decides to give to producers for their produce. The [Kwaku] Ananse story is meant to throw dust into the eyes of our poor cocoa farmers.”