The Minority Spokesperson on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has rubbished President John Mahama’s claim that the cocoa industry is thriving. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP said he was left dumbfounded by President Mahama’s claims during the presentation of highlights of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) manifesto, saying “I just couldn’t believe what I heard.” “Doesn’t he realise that in the last four or five years, the volume of exports of cocoa has been going down and he says cocoa production is up,” Dr. Afriyie Akoto retorted, adding that President Mahama did not understand the cocoa industry.
“So all the crisis in the cocoa industry with farmers complaining about the fact that they don’t have inputs to work with and that the producer prices are inadequate for their needs, he hasn’t heard?” Dr. Afriyie Akoto maintained that, cocoa production wasn’t going the way that President Mahama wanted Ghanaians to think whilst cautioning the President to be careful about the figures he throws around about the cocoa sector.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto also took issues with the President’s targets for the coffee industry. During his presentation on Tuesday, President Mahama said free coffee seedlings would be provided to all interested farmers. He further said 4 million of these seedlings were already being nursed and 6,000 metric tons of coffee are currently being produced in Ghana. The point that vexed the MP the most, was the pledge to increase the volume of coffee production to 100,000 metric tonnes as a result of this policy. “In other areas, he made outrageous targets for coffee; that we are going to produce a 100,000 metric tonnes of coffee. Where is the President getting these figures from…? We are only doing 3000 to 4000 metric tonnes of coffee export in this country,” Dr. Afriyie Akoto said. He explained that, “you need at least 200, 000 hectares to be cultivated over 4, 5, 6 years and in that period you have to spend about 10 thousand dollars per hectare and we are talking about $2 billion which is equivalent to something like GHc 10 billion in the next 4, 5 years.” In Dr. Afriyie Akoto’s view, President Mahama’s manifesto highlights presentation only “confirms what we have always been saying that, the NDC administration is big on rhetoric and propaganda and very little on what is actually happening.”