File photo: Gavel

A cocoa farmer from Berekum in the Bono Region has described Lithovit Liquid fertiliser as farmers’ “great saviour” while appealing to government to bring it back.

Thomas Amo Amankwaa, a second farmer testifying in the ongoing trial of Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), and two others said, COCOBOD cannot be said to have wasted money in purchasing Lithovit liquid fertiliser for farmers.

Mr Amankwaa, a third defence witness (DW3) for Dr Opuni while under cross-examination from Nutifafa Nutdukpi, counsel for Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited (2nd and 3rd Accused) also told the court that, the accused persons cannot be said to have caused financial loss to the state.

“I am not here for anything, but to plead with the government to bring back Lithovit Liquid fertiliser because it was good for cocoa farmers,” Mr Amankwaa told the Criminal Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court.

Asked to tell the court what his reaction to the prosecution’s case in court against A2 and A3 that the same Lithovit liquid fertiliser he claimed he used in the cocoa seasons of 2015/16 and 2016/2017 bought by Cocobod for farmers was “useless” and that COCOBOD wasted the money they had spent in buying the Lithovit liquid fertilizer, the witness said, “It is not true COCOBOD wasted money buying Lithovit liquid fertiliser.”

“As I have said earlier, cocoa farming is a business for we the farmers. That’s why I, Amankwaa, have four farms and I am testifying with one.”

He said, “Lithovit was saviour for farmers in the seasons 2015/16,” and that, “Lithovit was a great saviour for farmers like myself and others who used it in the year 2016/17.”

Bumper harvest

DW3 further told the court, “Lithovite fertiliser helped me a lot and I bought my car and I made more money as can be seen in my passbook and I was able yo buy a saloon that is a Toyota Corolla.”

On the prosecution’s position that, COCOBOD had wasted money in buying Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer from A2 and A3 and because of that, they have been arraigned to be jailed or punished for causing financial loss to Ghana, DW3 said that position should not be entertained.

“My Lord, they have not caused financial loss to Ghana as we the farmers know. Because the Lithovit liquid fertiliser we farmers used gave us a lot of yield on our cocoa farms which we have never seen before.

“The COCOBOD (CHED) officials that supplied us with Lithovit are aware that it (Lithovit liquid) was very good.

Farmers demonstration

He told the court that, in 2017/18, he went to COCOBOD CHED office to request for Lithovit liquid fertiliser to use for his cocoa farm, but they told him that they are aware that it is very good.

However, he was told that “it has been ceased by the head office in Accra.”

He said the CHED officials directed him to try his luck in the open market “if I will get some to buy in the open market.”

The witness told the court that, he visited some agrochemical shops but he could not get any to buy.

“My Lord, I roamed everywhere, but I could not get some to buy. If you come to Berekum, the people call me ‘The Cocoa Consultant,’ so I went to the COCOBOD CHED officials with about 100 cocoa farmers with the intention of embarking on a demonstration to plead with the government to bring back Lithovit liquid fertiliser because it gives us good yield in our cocoa farms.

“The COCOBOD officials told me this will not have any effect, so we should rather go to the radio stations.”

He told the court that, he went to Akonoba FM in Sunyani, Chris FM, Ahenfo FM and Shallom FM all in Berekum to appeal to the government to bring back Lithovit liquid fertiliser because “it gave us good yield on our cocoa farms.”

Dr. Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board, together with Seidu Agongo and his company Agricult Ghana Limited have been arraigned for allegedly causing financial loss to the state over some procurement breaches involving Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer.

They have pleaded not guilty and have been granted bail.

The case has been adjourned to Monday, May 30, 2022, for a continuation of cross-examination.