No farmer testified against Lithovit because state’s story was fabricated – Dist. Cocoa Officer

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The state was not able to call even one farmer to testify against the efficacy of Lithovit liquid fertiliser, because allegations against the product were fabricated, a former senior staff of COCOBOD has stated.

Mr. Samuel Tsatsu Adigler, who worked in the cocoa sector for over 30 years and retired as the District Cocoa Officer of Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD in 2021, has mounted a spirited defence for the effectiveness of Lithovit liquid fertiliser at the ongoing trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo.

Prosecution closed its case last year calling seven witnesses but was short of calling a single farmer, as an end user of the the fertiliser that the state claimed was worthless, to testify on behalf of the state.

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It is the case of the prosecution that the Lithovit liquid fertiliser bought by COCOBOD between 2014 and 2016 did not give value for money. The accused persons were therefore charged with causing financial loss to the state among other offences.

But giving his testimony under cross-examination led by counsel for Seidu Agongo, lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui on Monday, July 4, Mr. Samuel Adigler noted that he wasn’t surprised that no cocoa farmer was ready to corroborate any trumped up charges.

The witness was asked, “Now you see, while the prosecution had not called any farmer to come and complain about Lithovit, it called Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah who told this court that farmers had told him that the Lithovit liquid fertiliser was so ineffective that they drank it on their farms. What would be your reaction to such evidence.”

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Mr. Adigler replied: “My Lord, there is no farmer who can come before your honourable court to say that.”
He continued, “Every farmer knows that all agrochemical are hazardous to human health. Anybody who say so is insulting the intelligence of our cherished farmers. Moreso, it’s an indictment on CHED as an extension unit of COCOBOD, who educate and train farmers on good agronomic practices.

“I must add that some of our farmers may look financially poor but are very sound minded. In my 32 years of being a field staff or a frontline staff and working with farmers, I know farmers behaviour very well and there is no way any of them will ever venture to drink any agrochemical. And therefore, whoever said this has just fabricated the story and that is why no farmer has been brought before your court to testify to that effect.”

The witness also reiterated that based on his experience, and based on various field reports that he is privy to, the Lithovit fertiliser CHED distributed to farmers could not be the same fertiliser the test result of the Chemistry Department of the University of Ghana found to be “adulterated and worthless”.

“I can say that is not the fertiliser we used on the field,” the witness stressed.

Mr. Adigler also told the court that, as a farmer himself, he was willing to use his own money to buy Lithovit liquid fertiliser.

“Yes my lord, and apart from me, there are a lot of farmers still at Assin Fosu searching for Lithovit to buy at the market but could not get it,” the witness pointed out.

The witness was also asked if from his own experience he would say COCOBOD wasted its money for buying Lithovit fertiliser for farmers, and his response was:

“COCOBOD did not waste its money for buying Lithovit fertiliser for farmers, in that, it improved productivity, improved cocoa farmers’ income and enhanced their livelihood, and therefore we cannot say it is worthless buying this chemical for our farmers.”

DEMONSTRATION

Mr. Samuel Tsatsu Adigler recalled an edict from COCOBOD head office in Accra halting the distribution of Lithovit fertilizer without assigning any reason.

For the Assin Fosu district office alone, they had over 7000 litres of the Lithovit liquid fertiliser in stock, which he said angered the farmers who had wanted to demonstrate against him as the head there.

“Why would they want to demonstrate against you?” Nutifafa Nutsukpui asked the witness.

“To them they did not understand why the Lithovit fertiliser will still be in store whiles they need it and I being the district officer, they thought they should demonstrate against me to have their demands addressed.”

INTIMIDATION

The lawyer further asked, “please confirm to the court that ever since Lithovit liquid fertiliser was introduced to your district, you had no complaints or whatsoever regarding Lithovit liquid fertiliser.”

The witness answered, “During my short stay after the introduction of Lithovit at Assin Fosu, there were no complaint and when I went to Adabokrom in the Western North Region where Lithovit was not distributed, I had farmers from Brong Ahafo who used Lithovit in that region making request that we should supply Lithovit to the region because of its efficiency. None of these farmers ever reported anything negative about the Lithovit fertiliser to me.”

Asked if he interacted with other district cocoa officers concerning matters of cocoa and the inputs, this what he had to say.

“Yes my lord, we did discuss this issue among ourselves, especially when most of us heard about this case on air. As I speak now, there are a lot of workers, if not for the intimidation at the office, would have come out to give testimony about Lithovit.”

Meanwhile, the account of the former District Cocoa Officer confirms the accounts of the two farmers who have appeared before the court to give evidence. They said the Lithovit liquid fertilizer is effective and gave them bumper harvest, calling the product “messiah” and “saviour”.

 

 

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