Every Cocoa farmer has a passbook – witness in Opuni case reveals

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Dr Stephen Opuni
Dr Stephen Opuni

Mr Thomas Amo Amankwah, the third defence witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni and two others, says every cocoa farmer has a cocoa farmers passbook.

He said all cocoa beans harvested and sold by cocoa farmers were recorded in the passbook.

Mr Amankwah in his evidence in chief led by Mr Samuel Codjoe, Counsel for Dr Opuni, said the passbook had other details, including the total money received for cocoa purchases by licensed buying company on behalf of COCOBOD.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail each.

Mr Samuel Torbi, the second defence witness, was supposed to be cross examined by the State but the witness through the Counsel had sent an excuse duty to the Court, asking to be excuse because he had just been discharged from admission at the Ridge Hospital.

The Court, thereby ordered the defence to produce their next witness for the mean time until Mr Torbi fully recovered and ready to be crossed examined.

The third defence witness told the Court that, he had been a Cocoa farmer for 20 years, owned four different Cocoa farms.

He has 15.9 and 14 acres in the Ashanti Region, one in the Bono Region, covering an area of 13.6 acres One is at Yaakrom in the Dormaa West District covering an area of 21 acres.

He said prior to the 2014/15 cocoa season, he applied only granular fertilizers to his farm but during the 2015/2016, he together with other cocoa farmers were introduced to liquid fertilizers namely Sidalco and Lithovit liquid fertilizers at a training workshop by officers of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD.

The witness said at the training programme, they were taught how to use liquid fertilizer.

“We were further taught how to mix portions of these liquid fertilizers with water and also how to spray the mixed liquid fertilizer on the cocoa leaves,” he added.

He said during one of the crop seasons, CHED supplied me Sidalco liquid fertilizer to be applied on his farm and he had a good yield of 1,687kg of cocoa beans.

The Farmer said” CHED supplied other cocoa farmers with Lithovit liquid fertilizer in the districts where my farms are situated and the results were tremendous.”

He said he together with other farmers were impressed with Lithovit, increasing their harvest, so during 2016/2017 cocoa season, he specifically requested and was supplied with Lithovit liquid fertilizer.

“CHED officials supplied me with 10 bottles. I must say again that I broke the previous year’s record and harvests and sold 4,875kg of cocoa beans,” he added.

He said he joined other farmers in his area to inform the officers of CHED about the effectiveness of Lithovit liquid fertilizer.

The Farmer said during 2017/2018 cocoa season, he specifically requested for Lithovit fertilizer but was informed by the officials that COCOBOD had ceased supplying Lithovit.

“Because l needed Lithovit so badly, I went to the open market to find some but I did not get,” he said.

The witness in a cross examination led by Mr Nutifafa Nutsukpui, Counsel for Seidu Agongo, the Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana Limited, told the Court that he never met Mr Agongo or knew his Company.

The Court, therefore adjourned for the continuation of case on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

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