The National Best Farmer for 2017, Mr Baffour Kweku Agyamang, has told Justice Clemence Honyenugaâ€™s 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 â€œpunishingâ€ the latter for supplying the state agency with the â€œimmensely beneficialâ€ Lithovit liquid fertiliser, which was, in turn, distributed to farmers for use, would be â€œvery painfulâ€ to the beneficiaries.
Asked by Fafa Nutsukpui, who held brief for Mr Benson Nutsukpi, one of the counsel for Mr Agongo and his company, Agricult, about what his reaction was to the fact that Mr 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: â€œWhen that happens, it will be very painfulâ€ to the farmers because the â€œLithovit liquid fertiliser we used was of immense benefit to usâ€.
Mr Agyemang said he was willing to buy more of the agrochemical with his own money after Cocobod proscribed its usage.
â€œIt is so, my Lord. If I could get from an external source, I would haveâ€.
In his view, the supply of Lithovit liquid fertiliser to Cocobod by Mr Agongoâ€™s company for the 2014/2015 crop season, was not a waste of money?
In his considered opinion, Mr Agongo did not cause Coconod 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: â€œI heard from them that I wasn’t the only one who was looking for the Lithovit liquid fertiliserâ€ after its proscription.
â€œThe Lithovit liquid fertiliser I used really helped meâ€, Mr Agyemang, who said his cocoa farms, as of 2017, when he won the national accolade, totalled 184 acres, insisted, stressing: â€œIf it did not, I will not sing its praiseâ€.
â€œI have to state that the CEO of Cocobod, Hon. 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 testimoniesâ€.
Answering a question about what he made of the testimony of the stateâ€™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: â€œWhen you open Lithovit liquid fertiliser, it gives a burning sensation to the nostrils. It also smells like urineâ€.
He continued: â€œI don’t know PW3, Dr. Adu-Ampomah, but what I know is that the Lithovit liquid fertiliser is goodâ€.
â€œThis is because I was not the only one who got some of the Litovit liquid fertiliserâ€, noting that â€œother farmers had it, tooâ€.
Also, he said, â€œthe 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]â€.
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: â€œMy 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 toâ€.
According to him, the Directors at Cocobod in the Bono Region, where he has his farms, â€œalso came to see [that] the cocoa I planted had lots of yieldâ€.
â€œAlso, 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 usedâ€, he said.
â€œFinallyâ€, Mr Agyemang told the court, â€œBecause 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 itâ€.
The case has been adjourned to 21 July 2022.