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Lithovit far outperformed other fertilizers – Former Director at COCOBOD reveals

Evelyn Keelson And Honyenuga Evelyn Keelson and Justice Clemence Honyenuga

Fri, 29 Jul 2022 Source: angelonline.com.gh

A former Deputy Executive Director of Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD, in charge of monitoring and evaluation, has told the High Court that cocoa farms that used Lithovit liquid fertilizer “far outperformed” farms that applied other types of fertilizers.

Mr. Peter Okyere Boateng on Wednesday, July 27 recalled how he personally observed a “marked difference” between Lithovit applied farms and others during a field visit to cocoa districts in the then Brong Ahafo region in 2015.

The former Deputy Executive Director of CHED made this disclosure while giving his evidence in chief in the trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.

In the last sitting, Mr. Okyere Boateng, noted how he accepted a challenge from CHED regional managers to ascertain for himself the wonders being performed by Lithovit liquid fertilizer on cocoa farms.

Using one of the farms he visited as a case study, the former second in command at CHED who was subpoenaed, told the court about what he observed during the field trip.

“My Lord and the team that visited the farm observed a very marked difference in terms of yields and therefore volumes of pods on the cocoa trees and it was very clear that the farm that had been sprayed with the Lithovit liquid fertilizer had far outperformed the other farms that had been applied with the granular fertilizers.”

The nationwide regional field visit happened in April 2015 concurrently in all the cocoa regions: Ashanti, Eastern, Western North, Western South, Brong Ahafo, Volta and Central regions.

As the team lead, Mr. Okyere Boateng went to the Brong Ahafo with one Technical Officer, the Regional Manager, and the Regional Extension Coordinator.

He said the team visited nursery sites, farms that are being rehabilitated, some diseased farms that have been cut and some new farms that were being established. He added that the farmers whose farms they visited are those that have applied either granular fertilizers or foliar fertilizer.

Lead counsel for Dr Opuni, lawyer Samuel Codjoe asked the witness about his observations during the visit.

This is what the subpoenaed witness told the court in response:

“I will first start with the nurseries. I observed that the technical staff have done a very good job they had filled all the polythene bags that commiserate with their targets. My lord, a lot of the seedlings were about ready for distribution to the farmers, unfortunately some quantities of the bags that had been filled with topsoil had not been seeded with cocoa beans because I learnt they were shortages of hybrid seed pods from the cocoa stations. My Lord I also observed that the officers had diligently followed directives given to them by raising signposts in front of the nurseries with the inscription COCOBOD seedlings for free. So my Lord that is my observation at the nursery side.

“Now on the rehabilitation of the farms, my Lord I also observed that within the district, rehabilitation was ongoing and they were all at the stage of land preparation. Some of the farms being rehabilitated, my lord, were aged farms that were cut down by the farmers based on the education provided by the technical staff since some were also cocoa swollen shoots virus diseased infected farms that had been cut by the farmers themselves due to a policy shift from where COCOBOD through CHED was cutting the diseased farms for the farmers.

“My Lord the third category of farms where under preparation as I observed the new establishment. Thirdly my Lord I observed farms that applied fertilizers to look at their performances and specifically farms applied with the Lithovit foliar fertilizer. My Lord in the regions the farmers were supplied with two types of fertilizers, granular fertilizers and foliar fertilizer, and the foliar was only Lithovit foliar fertilizer and here the observation I made was that just as a confirmation of what my regional managers had been telling me the farms that had been applied with the Lithovit liquid fertilizer were observed carrying very heavy loads, with emphasis on heavy loads of pods. In addition, there were a lot of them developing cherelles on the cocoa trees. My Lord in addition, a lot of flowers had appeared and opened meaning they had set and were going to produce additional pods on the trees. My lord I want to put on record that these farms, Lithovit liquid fertilizer applied farms, where adjoined to other farms that had been applied with granular fertilizers.

“In Dormaa District for instance, my Lord the farmer had the cottage in the farm and he had a large tract of cocoa farm but they were in different ages and therefore he applied different types of fertilizers in the different farms of different ages. My Lord and the team that visited the farm observed a very marked difference in terms of yields and therefore volumes of pods on the cocoa trees and it was very clear that the farm that had been sprayed with the Lithovit liquid fertilizer had far outperformed the other farms that had been applied with the granular fertilizers. So my Lord, the farmer pleaded with me that I should help him to get the Lithovit for all the different categories of his farms. So he told me to, in fact instruct my technical officers to honour this request because they believed I have authority over the district officers and the technical officers and the extension agents. My Lord I used the [Dormaa] in particular because the farmer had a cottage that can host us.”

The witness stated further, “I want to put on record that the description of the performance of the Lithovit liquid fertilizer that I gave was not peculiar to the Dormaa District alone but it cuts across and was the same in all the five districts that I visited, the praises sang on the efficacy of the Lithovit liquid fertilizer was done in all the districts that I visited by the farmers who were met in their farms.”

He informed the court upon his return to Accra, he put together a report on the field visit indicating his observations, problems encountered and the comments by the field staff for the attention of Executive Director who sanctioned the trip, which he said is in the custody of COCOBOD.

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CHED

CHED came out of the defunct Cocoa Services Division and it was initially called Cocoa Swollen Shoot, Virus and Disease Control Unit. The major operation of this unit, now CHED, is to undertake activities to control the cocoa swollen shoot virus diseases in farmers’ farms.

Also, the division is in charge of extension education of cocoa and coffee farmers. The division is also incharge of distributing CODAPEC and HITECH agrochemicals to cocoa farmers in collaboration with the CODAPEC unit of COCOBOD. CHED is also incharge of supplying improved planting materials to cocoa farmers in collaboration with the SPD (Seed Production Division). Lastly, CHED is responsible for rehabilitating aged and disease infected cocoa farms. So these are the operations that my team and I monitored.

The testimony of Mr. Peter Okyere Boateng on the efficacy of Lithovit corroborates the accounts of three farmers including the 2017 National Best Farmer who appeared before the court as well as a former District Cocoa Officer of CHED and former , COCOBOD Board Chair.

The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, are facing over 25 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

The court presided over by Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga a justice of the Supreme Court sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge adjourned to Thursday, July 28.

Source: angelonline.com.gh
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