File photo: Gavel

A former Deputy Executive Director in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation of the Cocoa Health Extensions Division (CHED) now retired from the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has said, Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser benefitted farmers.

Peter Okyere Boateng, a subpoenaed witness for Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, the former Chief Executive of COCOBOD, said the efficacy of the Fertiliser made some regional managers “lobby me for more,” for their farmers.

Dr Opuni, former Chief Executive of COCOBOD (1st Accused), Seidu Agongo (2nd Accused), a businessman and his company Agricult Ghana Limited (3rd Accused) have been dragged to court over alleged procurement breaches and causing financial loss to the state.

They have all pleaded not guilty and have been granted a self-recognisance bail and are standing trial at the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge.

The subpoenaed (Compel) witness by the Court who is giving his evidence in chief as the 7th Defence Witness for Dr Opuni while being led by Samuel Codjoe, counsel for Dr Opuni gave chronological accounts of his role.

Mr Boateng, who retired on March 8, 2017, at the time Dr Opuni was the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, said he first heard about lithovit fertiliser from the Regional Managers of CHED, during their monthly reports meetings.

On what the meetings were about, he said, a structure of CHED at the time he was there, required a meeting and “the Regional Managers in the cocoa will account for the activities they have undertaken within the month in the form of presenting written reports to which they have to speak at the meeting.”

Asked to tell the court when he first heard about Lithovit, the witness said, “as the deputy executive director in charge of M&E at CHED, being very close with the regional managers, before the meeting starts they come to my office and tell me about things in their regions and the kind of assistance they would want me to give.”

He added that” in this case some of them (regional managers) who have used it came to lobby me for more of Lithovite Liquid Fertilizer because their farmers were very happy with the product.”

He said, “and then in their reports, they wrote about it. And it was all very good commendation about the product and this gave ideas that the product Lithovit is a good agrochemical for the farmers.”

The retired CHED officer told the court that, “the regional managers have said they themselves have been supplied with the Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser and have subsequently applied and gotten massive improvement in their yields and that the farms were carrying heavy loads of pods.”

To the extent that, “they challenged me to come round to see for myself,” the Witness noted.

Asked by counsel if he did that, he answered in the affirmative but added that, it was not solely for the aim of going to look at the impact of the application of the foliar fertilizer.

“I had my scheduled field visit. In April 2015, I scheduled my field visit to the Brong Ahafo region whilst other teams went to the other regions to inspect activities going on.

“When I was going to the field in April 2015, I had various aims and objectives. And it was in this vein that I made observations. First, my Lord, I was going to inspect the nursery to ascertain the readiness of the cocoa seedlings being raised by the CHED for distribution to farmers.

“Secondly, I was to inspect farms which are being rehabilitated and to ascertain the progress made.

“Thirdly, it was to determine the state of the cocoa crop for the light crop season that COCOBOD was about to enter. So it was a form of crop forecasting. Then fourthly, was to look at the efficacy of the LLF and the applied farms as have been reported by the regional manager, in this case, the Brong Ahafo region.

“Lastly, I was to meet all the field officers in the various districts within the region to learn from them, their problems and comments on programs and activities and also operations by CHED for the year. This was my set goal for going on that trip,” he said.