The Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), on 22 January 2014, certified and recommended Lithovit Foliar to the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) as an effective fertiliser for cultivating cocoa, a communicator of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi, has said.
Mr Gyamfi’s revelation is in response to allegations that businessman Seidu Agongo and his AgriCult Ghana Company Limited, which have, together with former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Stephen Opuni, been slapped with 27 charges of willfully causing financial loss of GHS217 to the state, supplied fake Lithovit Foliar to the cocoa governing body, through three separate supply contracts between 2014 and 2016.
The contracts were GHS43.1million (2013/2014 cocoa farming season), GHS75.3million (2014/2015 cocoa farming season) and GHS98.9million (2015/2016 cocoa farming season) totaling GHS217million through sole-sourcing, the state claims. The state also says procurement procedures for sole-sourcing were not followed in the award of the contracts.
According to the state, the Lithovit Foliar consignments were produced locally, contrary to an agreement between COCOBOD and AgriCult Ghana Company Limited that they be sourced from Germany.
Also, the state claims the fertilisers were manufactured without registration, thereby, flouting the Plants and Fertiliser Act 2010.
The state also said Dr Opuni took a bribe of GHS25,000 from Mr Agongo in October 2014 to facilitate the award of one of the contracts, by misrepresenting facts to the Public Procurement Authority, adding that the 2014 contract was awarded without any price quotation.
However, Mr Gyamfi, told Adom TV’s BADWAM programme on Friday, 16 March that samples of the CRIG-certified fertiliser were taken to the Public Procurement Authority as part of processes to get the go-ahead for the supply to COCOBOD.
According to him, all the contractual and procurement processes started before the appointment of Dr Opuni by President John Mahama on 30 November 2013 as CEO of COCOBOD.
He said apart from the certification of the fertiliser by CRIG, field officers of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division of COCOBOD went on the ground to ascertain the effectiveness of Lithovit Foliar on the farms and returned with positive reports.
In his view, therefore, the 27 charges levelled against Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo amount to “persecution, not prosecution”. “It is malicious prosecution”, he stressed.