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General News Mon, 17 Sep 2001

Government to Sanitise Cocoa Industry

The government is to adopt measures to sanitise the cocoa purchasing business to rid it of malpractices, Mr Ernest Debrah, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister said on Friday.

"We have identified a lot of problems in the buying of cocoa since private companies were allowed to participate and the government is closely monitoring the situation and will act swiftly soon to rectify the situation."

Mr Debrah was speaking at a special awards ceremony by the Produce Buying Company (PBC) in Sunyani to reward hardworking and loyal staff and farmers who have kept faith with the company.

Nana Awudu Kramo of Duayaw Nkwanta was presented with a spraying machine and a piece of kente as the over-all regional best farmer of the company.

Fifty other awards winners received various items including wall clocks cutlasses and wellington boots.

Mr Debrah deplored the rampant cheating of cocoa farmers through the use of unapproved scales and improper documentation of cocoa purchases with cash instead of Akuafo cheques as some problems associated with the liberalisation of cocoa purchases.

The Regional Minister said the government was fully aware of the sacrifices farmers have made to the development of the country and gave the assurance that government was determined to implement policies that would benefit them.

"The cocoa spraying exercise, which the government is carrying out in the country is one of the few interventions to address farmers' problems," he said.

Mr Debrah commended the PBC for instituting the awards scheme, which he said would encourage farmers to work hard and sell their produce through the company.

Mr Stephen Agyemang, Regional Manager said the company went through some very difficult times in the past two years but is now well positioned to offer the best of services to farmers.

He blamed top officials of the former government who deliberately plotted to undermine the company to give unfair advantage to private cocoa buying firms in which they had interests.

Nana Adjei Damoah, Regional Chief Farmer, said though the government had been in power for only a short time, it has demonstrated its concern for farmers' welfare. He promised that they would reciprocate with hard work.

He expressed regret about the drastic reduction in cocoa production in the region due mainly to bushfires.

Nana Bosoma Asor Nkrawiri, Paramount Chief of Sunyani presided.

Source: GNA