The 2017 National Best Farmer, Mr Baffour Kweku Agyamang, says it is sad that businessman and philanthropist, Alhaji Seidu Agongo, is being prosecuted for the supply of the Lithovit liquid fertiliser to farmers.
The celebrated agric entrepreneur told the Justice Clemence Honyenuga court in the ongoing GHS271-million financial loss case against the ex-CEO of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo, that the fertiliser was immersely beneficial to him and farmers across cocoa growing communities.
Mr Agyemang, therefore, wondered why the state would prosecute the person who facilitated the supply of the product to farmers, given that it helped to improve yields, leading to series of testimonies by farmers, including him, a National Best Farmer.
He was answering questions in court when he appeared as witness of Alhaji Agongo.
He was being led by Fafa Nutsukpui, who held brief for Mr Benson Nutsukpi, one of the counsels for Mr Agongo and his company, Agricult. A farmer of many years, Mr Agyemang said his cocoa farms as of 2017, when he won the national accolade, totalled 184 acres.
“The Lithovit liquid fertiliser I used really helped me”, Mr Agyemang said.
“If it did not, I will not sing its praise.”
“I have to state that the CEO of Cocobod, Joseph Boahen Aidoo has been of immense help to me. He knows my farms and has even constructed a borehole and irrigation for me for free. He and his Cocobod officials assisted in getting me solar energy on my farm. In 2018, he also sent me to Switzerland and bore all the cost associated with the trip. When I got Lithovit liquid fertiliser, it was not the tenure of Joseph Boahen Aidoo; and, so, if the Lithovit liquid fertiliser hasn’t helped me this much, I wouldn’t be here to give such testimonies”.
Consequently, he said “punishing” Alhaji Agongo for supplying the state agency with the “immensely beneficial” Lithovit liquid fertiliser, which was, in turn, distributed to farmers for use, would be “very painful” to the beneficiaries.
Asked about what his reaction was to the fact that Alhaji Agongo and his company have both been hauled before the court to be punished for causing financial loss to the state in connection with the supply of Lithovit fertiliser to Cocobod, Mr Agyemang said: “When that happens, it will be very painful” to the farmers because the “Lithovit liquid fertiliser we used was of immense benefit to us”.
Mr Agyemang said he was willing to buy more of the agrochemical with his own money after Cocobod proscribed its usage.
“It is so, my Lord. If I could get from an external source, I would have”.
In his view, the supply of Lithovit liquid fertiliser to Cocobod by Mr Agongo’s company for the 2014/2015 crop season, was not a waste of money
As a result, he said Mr Agongo did not cause Cocobod to lose any money.
Mr Agyemang said just as many farmers who used Lithovit liquid fertiliser had no qualms about it, he, too, had none.
He told the court on Monday, 18 July 2022 that throughout his dealings with the CHED officials, he never heard any of them mention that any farmer had lodged a complaint against Lithovit liquid fertiliser after applying it to their farm.
On the contrary, he said: “I heard from them that I wasn’t the only one who was looking for the Lithovit liquid fertiliser” after its proscription.
Answering a question about what he made of the testimony of the state’s third witness, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, that the fertiliser was ineffective and some farmers drank it in place of water, as a result of its poor nature, Mr Agyemang said: “When you open Lithovit liquid fertiliser, it gives a burning sensation to the nostrils. It also smells like urine”.
He continued: “I don’t know PW3, Dr. Adu-Ampomah, but what I know is that the Lithovit liquid fertiliser is good”.
“This is because I was not the only one who got some of the Litovit liquid fertiliser”, noting that “other farmers had it, too”.
Also, he said, “the CHED officers who visited my farms saw that the farms I applied the Lithovit liquid fertiliser [to], had better yield than the ones I didn’t apply [it to]”.
Asked what his reaction was to a test conducted by the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana, which also indicated that the Lithovit liquid fertiliser was not effective, the national best farmer said: “My Lord, the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana might have conducted their own test but when I used the Lithovit liquid fertiliser, the benefits I got from it is what I am testifying to”.
According to him, the Directors at Cocobod in the Bono Region, where he has his farms, “also came to see [that] the cocoa I planted had lots of yield”.
Also, the farmers who used Lithovit liquid fertiliser also testified that they had more yield. I go through other farms to get to mine and I could see they had more yield. When I asked, I was told it was due to the Lithovit liquid fertiliser they used”, he said.
“Finally”, Mr Agyemang told the court, “Because the Lithovit liquid fertiliser was very effective, I and other farmers tried to get more. Due to that, I kept an empty bottle in order to use in search to get some to buy from agrochemical shops for my farms later on. I looked for some later on but I couldn’t get it”.
The case has been adjourned to 21 July 2022.