This report was compiled by the management of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) following a field visit to some cocoa farms. The team that went to the field included the Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director (Monitoring and Evaluation), Technical Officer, accompanied by regional managers.
A former District Cocoa Officer based in Assin Fosu, Samuel Tsatsu Adigler made the above disclosure under cross-examination on June 6 led by Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson.
The witness is the 5th defence witness testifying on behalf of former COCOBOD Chief Executive Dr Stephen Opuni who is standing trial together with businessman Seidu Agongo, charged with causing financial loss to the state, breach of the procurement law among others.
Mr. Adigler has given extensive testimony about the efficacy of the Lithovit liquid fertiliser, which he said was the preference of farmers due to its ability to increase yields.
But Prosecution, Evelyn Keelson challenged the witness’ claims, putting it to him that, “your testimony on Lithovit liquid fertiliser and the agitations from farmers on that fertiliser is not supported by the records”.
The witness however placed on record that, “COCOBOD’s own official report written by CHED management team, they acknowledged the efficacy of Lithovit liquid fertiliser and they admitted that farmers were showering praises on the chemical, and in my own capacity as a field supervisor I saw its performance.”
He further added, “Again, there are a lot of farmers who testified that by using Lithovit fertiliser, it increased their yields, out of which some of them said they put up their buildings and bought their personal vehicles.”
The witness noted that a copy of the report that he saw when he was transferred to Adabokrom as the District Cocoa Officer would be at the head office of COCOBOD for verification.
Mr. Adigler’s claim appears to confirm what the former board chairman of COCOBOD Ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum told the High Court on June 10 about a management report on Lithovit liquid fertiliser.
“With all due respect, emphasis with all due respect, I find the court’s finding rather strange. My lord, my reasons are as follows:
“One as a board chairman, I am very much aware that there was a unit within COCOBOD which I referred to in my earlier submission, that is CHED. I’m very much aware that that division was responsible for monitoring how the fertilisers and other agrochemicals were applied in the field and that there was or should be a report by CHED monitoring team at cocoa board.
“My lord, I am aware of my passion for the farmer and the farming industry as a whole that the CHED proceeded to train the cocoa farmers on the proper application of the fertiliser and so my lord I am saying that there was a report by CHED or there should be such a report which concluded that litovit liquid fertiliser was effective,” Amb. Ohene Agyekum told the court.
CHED is in charge of monitoring how fertilisers and other agrochemicals are applied in the field and compiles an annual report on their activities under the CODAPEC and HI-TECH programme.
Evelyn Keelson, early on, told Mr. Adigler that he does not have an idea of any report from CRIG recommending Lithovit foliar fertiliser to COCOBOD.
He responded by saying, “My Lord, I earlier said Lithovit liquid fertiliser is among the list of agrochemicals approved by CRIG and sent to us. Additionally, in the course of our operations on the field, CRIG staff who came to inspect the effect of the chemicals we are using would give feedback on it. And since after their visit, no negative recommendations came from them to us showed that there is nothing wrong about its usage.”
“I am putting it to you that there is no CRIG report recommending Lithovit,” Mrs keelson insisted.
Mr. Adigler also asserted, “My Lord, COCOBOD does not operate in a vacuum. CODAPEC/HITECH unit I know will submit its request to COCOBOD on the types of agrochemicals to procure before funds are released for its purchase to farmers. As such, the secretariat does not recommend any chemical they don’t know anything about.”