Former President John Dramami Mahama has noted that the cocoa sector of the economy is currently struggling due to poor management by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.
Mr Mahama noted that when he was in office, his administration initiated a number of projects including the free fertilizer as well as the free seedlings distribution programmes as a way of boosting the sector and to also attract young people into cocoa farming.
But, he said, after the NPP administration took over in 2016, the sector has been dwindling by the cancellation of the free fertilizer distribution.
Mr Mahama told journalists in Accra on Thursday, January 30 that: “If this government is doing well in the cocoa sector why is the sector dwindling?
“When we were in office, we noticed a dwindling in the sector so we said we won’t sell the fertilizers to them, let’s give to them.
“If we say they should buy they will tell us they don’t have the money and so they won’t buy to even apply it so we said they should be given free fertilizer.
“Once he has it for free he will apply and if he applies it output will go up. That was why we brought the free fertilizer programme … to give farmers and especially young people the advantage to come into cocoa production.
So we distributed 60million seedlings. The first year 20million, the next year we increased it to 60million seedlings
“The farmers were taking the seedlings for free they didn’t pay for them.”
Mr Mahama further noted that some road contractors who were award contracts to construct roads in the cocoa growing regions have died and bed ridden following the failure if the current government to pay them for the work done.
He said : “We also reserved money for cocoa roads so that we can improve the roads in the five cocoa growing regions so that when the cocoa is produced we can send transports in there and take the cocoa out.
“We started giving contracts to contractors to do cocoa roads but a new government came in and terminated the contracts and refused to pay them.
“There are several cocoa road contractors who were doing cocoa roads who have died, others are sick they can’t pay for their hospital bills because government says they are investigating the cocoa roads and so for three years they refused to pay the contractors.”