In 2008, Kwame Pianim, who was then the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), hailed former president J.J. Rawlings as a messiah for his relentless interventions during the cocoa recession era in the early 1990s.
The one-time leading member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) said Mr Rawlings saved the cocoa industry from a looming collapse with his bold decisions in the early nineties.
While addressing cocoa farmers at the 14th Annual General Meeting of Kuapa Kookoo Farmers, Mr Pianim recounted that the ex-President deserved a lot of commendation for increasing producer price of the product to 46%, at the time he (Pianim) was the CEO of COCOBOD.
He is quoted to have said, “Being a CEO of the COCOBOD at that time, I realised the producer price of the product served as a very serious disincentive to farmers, so I quickly appealed to Mr. Rawlings to do something about it, lest the country would be plunged into serious economic crisis to which the ex-President did not hesitate at all in responding to my request by increasing the price of the product, I think he must be commended for that."
Read the full story originally published on August 5, 2008, on Ghanaweb
An Economic Consultant and former Chief Executive Officer of Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, (PURC), Mr. Kwame Pianim has commended ex-President J.J. Rawlings for taking bold decisions in the early nineties, which he said saved the cocoa industry from total collapse.
The celebrated Economist and one-time leading member of the New Patriotic Party, noted that the ex-President deserves a lot of commendation for his intervention during the cocoa recession era in the early 1990s, by increasing producer price of the product to 46%, at the time he (Pianim) was the CEO of COCOBOD.
According to him, the ex-President's intervention came at a time when cocoa farmers in the country, obviously not happy with the producer price of the product at the time, decided to destroy their cocoa farms and venture into other domestic crops, such as tomatoes and cassava.
Addressing cocoa farmers at the 14th Annual General Meeting of Kuapa Kookoo Farmers, in Kumasi, Mr. Pianim recounted how Mr. Rawlings boldly responded to his plea for cocoa farmers in the country to be motivated by increasing the producer price per bag of the product, which was around 1,925Gp to GH¢4.50, which according to him, bolstered the interest of cocoa farmers and prevented them from destroying their farms.
"Being a CEO of the COCOBOD at that time, I realised the producer price of the product served as a very serious disincentive to farmers, so I quickly appealed to Mr. Rawlings to do something about it, lest the country would be plunged into serious economic crisis to which the ex-President did not hesitate at all in responding to my request by increasing the price of the product, I think he must be commended for that," he said.
Mr. Pianim therefore encouraged cocoa farmers in the country not to relent in their efforts in the face of serious economic threats and continue to invest adequately in the production of the crop, which currently serves as the country's major export commodity.
He observed that in the face of the country's oil discovery, many cocoa farmers have expressed fears about the relevance of the product to the country's economy.
He however believes the product would continue to serve a major purpose in the resuscitation of the country's economy, adding that there was the need for the government to put much value on the product.
The chief Economist also commended management of the Kuapa Kookoo farmers for setting up their own company, which produces chocolate for local consumption. He advised the farmers to constantly meet and discuss issues that affect their operations.
Touching on the oil discovery, Mr. Pianim said there was the need to manage the commodity in order to acquire its maximum benefit, pointing out that the country had not benefited adequately from its vast natural products, such as timber and gold.
He further noted that income that would be generated from the oil must be equitably distributed to prevent conflict in the country, citing Nigeria where violence has continuously plagued the country as a result of poor management of the rich mineral resource.
The President of the Kuapa Kookoo Farmers Union, Mr. P.C.K. Buah stated that the association had witnessed difficulties over the last two years, as it had been besieged with a lot of legal battles, which according to him had drained the company of much needed resources.
He nevertheless said that the company was committed in fulfilling the Fair-trade Label Organisation (FLO) certification and as such there was the need for the organisation to pursue measures that would enable it to achieve that noble objective.