Government has cut back on the budget for chemicals meant for the mass cocoa spraying exercise, a Member of Parliament for Akim Oda has revealed.
William Agyepong Quaitoo insists the reduction in the budget has dire implications on the country’s cocoa production targets.
His revelation follows reports of massive diversion of chemicals meant for the mass cocoa spraying exercise.
On Monday, Luv FM’s Erastus Asare Donkor reported of a cocoa chemical diversion scandal that has hit the Ashanti Region.
The scandal fingered some high profile police personnel, with the Abuakwa Police alleged to be colluding with middlemen to divert and sell cocoa chemicals meant for cocoa farmers.
The chemicals bought with meager government funds were to be distributed to the cocoa farmers for free as part of the mass cocoa spraying exercise to increase production of the commercial crop.
The chemicals included Ridomil, Funguran, Nordox, Agro Comit, Confidor, Atara and Akate Master.
Speaking to Joy News on the matter, the Deputy Ranking Member on Parliament’s Agric and Cocoa Committee and MP for Akim Oda, William Agyepong Quaitoo said the reports of the diversion have come to his attention.
With Parliament on recess, the MP said his committee will quickly haul the Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board Dr Stephen Opuni before the committee to explain the circumstances under which the chemicals were diverted, if at all they were.
He was however impressed with the efforts by the COCOBOD CEO in fighting the diversions.
According to him, Dr Opuni has caused the arrest and interdiction of a number of officials working at the COCOBOD, suspected to have colluded with middlemen to sell chemicals meant to be distributed to cocoa farmers for free.
He admitted that pilfering of cocoa chemicals by some miscreants in the industry may still be happening on a limited scale (as compared to the past) but said the real reason for the shortage of chemicals is the government’s decision to cut budget for the mass cocoa spraying exercise.
He told Myjoyonline.com the budget for the exercise has dwindled from 2011 till now and that is not good enough for an industry that holds the country’s economy.