The Mahama administration's free cocoa fertilizer distribution scheme has been officially scrapped, the government has announced.
In its place, the NPP government has re-introduced a long-standing policy of subsidies on fertilizers.
A bag of granular fertilizers is expected to be sold at GH¢80, slashed from GH¢171.75 representing a 53.4% reduction.
Liquid fertilizers sold at GH¢105 is now expected to go for GH¢20, an 80 percent fall in prices.
A statement by COCOBOD dated May 15 revealed these new prices which takes immediate effect.
The fresh subsidies becomes the first mayor reversal of the former administration's policies.
The NPP had promised to subsidies cocoa fertilizers. But in response, President Mahama told the NPP, “you can’t subsidize what is given free.”
[L] President John Mahama and some government officials spent time with some cocoa farmers
Over 1.6 million bags of inorganic fertilizers, 220,000 bags of organic fertilizers and 1.7million litres of foliar fertilizers distributed freely in 2014.
In the 2016 election year, the free distribution was stepped up with government announcing the sharing of some 2.5 million bags of granular fertilizer and 1.4 million litres of liquid or foliar fertilizer.
Despite government's good intentions, some cocoa farmers have been complaining that the fertilizers does not reach the intended targets.
The distribution chain was 'ambushed' by local power brokers reported to have diverted the fertilizers although a taskforce had been set up to ensure transparency.
"I have received 20 bags of fertilizers for my four acres' farm, though they say it is free but we always pay something to the officers. If you don't pay they won't give you," a 37-year-old former, Moro Ayana told The Africa Report.
President of the Offinso Municipal Cocoa Farmers Association Nana Kwaku Duah had criticized the policy and asked the government to discontinue it.
He complained that the free fertilizers from the Cocobod come in late – defeating the very goal of the otherwise laudable policy.
He wondered how anybody could apply fertilizer on their farms when the rains had ceased and expect to achieve a reasonable increase in crop production.
Despite the free distributions, cocoa production declined. In the 2015/2016 cocoa season, government missed a 850,000 metric tonnes target producing 690,000 metric tonnes.
It therefore missed its target by 160,000 metric tonnes.
Since 2011, cocoa production has been generally reducing for factors blamed on bad weather, swollen shoot disease, poor management, smuggling, politicisation of mass spraying exercise and corruption.