A spokesperson of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Majority on Finance in Parliament, Fuseini Issah has justified the government’s plan to secure a $600m facility from AfDB to expand the country’s cocoa sector.
He said the breakdown of expenditure under the facility will be geared towards increasing productivity and the value of the sector.
His comment comes on the back of strong opposition by the Minority in Parliament to the facility especially some components under it.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, while debating the facility in Parliament on Tuesday said the caucus was opposed to the planned expenditure of some $68 million under the facility for hand pollination and a budget of $5 million for the promotion of local consumption of cocoa products.
He said the amounts were huge and cannot be justified.
“We want to know where the $200 million will be going to because $200 million can even set up four processing factories if we are to do a minimum of $50 million per factory. We have no difficulty with it but when we say $200 million to support domestic processing of cocoa, the committee must demand who will get this as support…We need full details from government. Who will it go to? For what?”
But Fuseini Issah, who is also the Member of Parliament for Okaikoi North constituency described as “unfortunate” the Minority’s opposition to the components of the facility.
He said the facility has the potential of leaving a “game-changing” effect on the country’s cocoa sector since it will help increase the volume of cocoa produced in the country.
“Currently as a country, we only process about 36% of what we produce. We hit an all-time high in Cocoa production in the 2010/2011 Cocoa season, hitting over 1 million tonnes, [but] since then, we have been on a decline,” he stressed.
Highlighting some of the key activities to be undertaken with the facility, he said, “this $600m facility is from the AfDB. Components of this facility are going to be used to irrigate cocoa farms, we are going to enhance the pollination that has been ongoing, we are going to rehabilitate some of the farms, we are going to improve upon the quality of the cocoa beans that we have, we are also looking at getting accurate database on our cocoa production, inclusive in there, is a component that is going to promote the local consumption of cocoa, and that is the component that has gotten all the headlines.”
Fuseini Issah said the Minority’s position on the component for promotion of local consumption of cocoa products was surprising.
“[With] all the good things that this facility is doing, our brothers on the other side of the house have just glossed over it and are majoring on the minors,” he told Umaru Sanda Amadu on Eyewitness News.
With the $68 million budget for hand pollination, he explained that, “this is aimed at improving our productivity per acre from the current 450 grams that we do to a 1200 grams, it we are able and this succeeded as we have envisaged, we are going to improve the productivity per acre by three folds. With this pollination…you get to feel the effect, 6 months after implementation so it has a direct link on the productivity and finally the output of the cocoa industry.”
Meanwhile, Parliament has deferred the approval of the loan facility due to the challenges raised by the minority.