Kufuor’s Mass Cocoa Spraying Was A Flop-– Dr. Kwaku Afriyie

A former Minister of Health in the Kufuor administration, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, believes the cocoa mass spraying exercise embarked on by the previous government was a huge washout, as government failed to privatize it. According to Dr. Afriyie, the exercise should have been private sector driven and not be placed in the hands of civil servants as been done now. “…the organization of this mass spraying exercise is a flop and I’m not afraid to say so. There is an inbuilt inefficiency in the public sector…and I don’t think the current NDC government being left winged can change the policy by bringing in the private sector to bring sanity and progress in the exercise…the mass spraying is not going on well,” he told PEACEFM’s Kwami Sefa-Kayi on “Kokrokoo”. The former Sefwi District Best Farmer, who is also a two-time highest seller of cocoa to the Produce Buying Company (PBC), in the Sefwi-Wiawso District, expressed his disappointment with the figure announced by government as the new producer price of cocoa. Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, announced in Accra yesterday a new producer price of cocoa of GH¢2,208.00 for the 2009/2010 season. The upward adjustment, from GH¢1,632 per tonne to GH¢2,208.00, is effective October 14, 2009. The new figure, which is 71.06% of the net FOB price, the highest price ever to be paid in the country, translates to GH¢138.00 per bag of 64 kilogramme gross weight, and a 35.29% increase over the previous price. But Dr. Afriyie says the new price is not reflective of what pertains on the world market and called for a review of the price. He opined that the price disparity would boost smuggling of the commodity to our West African neighbours, La Côte d'Ivoire, and cautioned that if this is not done, Ghana’s objective of producing a million tonnes of cocoa this year, would be a mirage. “….cocoa output is likely to decline in the next two or three years…we share in the view of producing 1 million tonnes of cocoa and infact, we can even exceed that target. The inefficiency in the cocoa sector is so amazing…an economic strategy is the only best way out of this,” he stressed.