Lithovit-sprayed farms 'outperformed' others, farmers 'sang its praise' – Retired COCOBOD director

Lithovit Lithovit supplies | File photo

Thu, 28 Jul 2022 Source: classfmonline.com

A retired deputy director in charge of monitoring and evaluation at the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), Mr Peter Okyere Boateng, has told Justice Clemence Honyenuga's court in the ongoing GHS271-million financial loss case that cocoa farms sprayed with Lithovit liquid fertiliser – the agrochemical at the centre of the case – outshined other farms sprayed with other fertilisers.

"My Lord, I observed farms applied with fertilisers to look at their performances and specifically farms applied Lithovit liquid fertiliser. In the region, the farmers were supplied with two types of fertilisers: that's granular and foliar fertiliser.

"The foliar was only Lithovit foliar fertiliser and here, what I observed was what my regional managers have been telling me and they [farms] were all observed carrying heavy – with emphasis on heavy – lots of pods. In addition, there were a lot of developing cherelles on the cocoa trees.

"In addition, a lot of flowers had appeared and opened. Meaning, they had set and were going to produce additional pods on the trees", Mr Boateng, the seventh defence witness for former Cocobod CEO Dr Stephen Opuni, told the court on Wednesday, 27 July 2022.

He said: "I want to put on record that these farms were adjoined to other farms that had been applied with granular fertiliser. In Dormaa District, for instance, the cocoa farmer had a cottage on the farm and he had a large tract of cocoa farm but they were of different ages and, therefore, he applied different types of fertiliser on the different farms of different ages".

"My Lord, I and the team who visited the farm, observed a very marked difference in terms of yield and or volumes of pods on the cocoa trees; and it was very clear that the farm that had been sprayed with the Lithovit liquid fertiliser had far out-performed the other farm that had been applied with the granular fertiliser", he told the court during his examination-in-chief by Mr Samuel Codjoe, the lead counsel for Dr Opuni, who is standing trial along with businessman Seidu Agongo.

"So, my Lord, the farmer pleaded with me to help him get for all the different categories of his farm. In fact, he told me to instruct my technical officers to honour his request because he believed I had authority over the district officer and the technical officer and the extension agents", he testified.

According to him, all the farmers he interacted with in the districts he visited showered praises on Lithovit liquid fertiliser: "My Lord, I want to put on record that the description of the performance of the Lithovit liquid fertiliser that I gave was not peculiar to the Dormaa District alone, but it cut across and was the same in all the five districts that I visited. And the praises sang on the efficacy of the Lithovit liquid fertiliser was done in all the districts that I visited by the farmers who were met in their farms".

Asked how the fertiliser was applied, Mr Boateng explained: "My Lord, all liquid fertilisers which include Lithovit liquid fertiliser, operate by releasing nutrients through the leaf of the cocoa tree. The tree uses the Lithovit liquid fertiliser in its photosynthetic activities in the stomata of the cocoa leaves of the cocoa trees.

"Liquid fertilisers, including the Lithovit liquid fertiliser, are sprayed onto the cocoa tree leaves for effective usage, unlike granular fertilisers that are utilised by the plant through the roots. And, my Lord, to spray Lithovit liquid fertiliser, we use mostly motorised spraying machines but on a few occasions, depending on the height of the cocoa tree, we use hand-spraying machines".

Explaining why the motorised machine is used, Mr Boateng said: "As I described in my submission, the chemical has to drop on the surface of the leaf where the stomata are located. So, it is the motorised machine that can throw the mist onto the leaves, because, the chemical, in this case, the Lithovit liquid fertiliser, if sprayed on the back of the cocoa leaf, will just be a waste because the plant can't absorb it".

The case has been adjourned to Thursday, 28 July 2022 for the continuation of examination-in-chief.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo have been charged for causing financial loss to the case in connection with the procurement by Cocobod, of a huge quantity of the Lithovit liquid fertiliser produced by Mr Agongo's company, Agricult Limited.

The state argues that the fertiliser is substandard but several witnesses have discounted that in the four-year trial.

Source: classfmonline.com
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