Lawyers for former COCOBOD CEO, Dr Stephen Opuni, have told an Accra High Court that cocoa farmers who used Lithovit Foliar fertilizer approved for use by COCOBOD reported it induced crop growth as well as increased yield.
The efficacy of the fertilizer has been questioned by state prosecutors in the case in which Dr Opuni is charged with causing financial loss to the state in the award of the fertilizer contract to businessman Seidu Agongo.
The state’s first witness, Dr Franklin Manu Amoah who is the Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana(CRIG) had earlier told the court, the fertilizer wasn’t tested on matured plants as was required.
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He explained this was due to a directive from then COCOBOD boss Dr Opuni asked for approval of the fertilizers.
Dr Manu Amoah was on Monday cross-examined by lead counsel for Dr Opuni, Samuel Codjoe. Mr Codjoe insisted the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED), a wing of COCOBOD that interacted with farmers had captured in its report that farmers were satisfied with the fertilizer.
He also confronted Dr Amoah with his witness statement given by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) in which he reiterated the head of CHED Dr Francis Baah’s views that reports on the fertilizer use were positive.
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Dr Amoah disagreed with this assertion. He told the court the views of CHED could not be the basis for a renewal of a certificate of a fertilizer.
He further stated that his reference to reports of the fertilizer’s efficacy was simply a repetition of what Dr Francis Baah told the current government’s transition team that dealt with issues relating to COCOBOD.
Dr Amoah argued it’s the Cocoa Research Institute that is responsible for testing fertilizer and getting responses from farmers on its effectiveness.
The survey conducted by CHED Dr Amoah maintained is for consumption of its management while that of CRIG will determine whether a chemical should be accepted for renewal or not.
The former COCOBOD CEO and CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited Seidu Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretence, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have pleaded not guilty and have been granted a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail by the court.