Parliament divided over $5m allocated for cocoa consumption under school feeding

Source GhanaWeb

As part of government’s effort to increase the country’s cocoa production to 1.5 million tonnes by 2027, COCOBOD will receive an amount a US$600 million as capital injection through the Cocoa Productivity Enhancement Program.

COCOBOD will allocate an amount of $7.5 million to sensitize the public on the health benefit of coca and promote local consumption.

According to the report of the finance committee presented to parliament on the long-term loan agreement between the government of Ghana and the African Development Bank, a committee for promotion of cocoa consumption has been set up by COCOBOD. This is to step up the local consumption of cocoa through school feeding and promotion.

To achieve this, an amount of $5 million will be allocated to the school feeding programme and an amount of $2. 5 million for promotional activities to reach the east and Asian market as seen in a memorandum by COCOBOD to the finance committee.

On the floor of parliament, however, ranking member of the finance committee, Cassiel Ato Forson said the breakdown of the $600 million is outrageous.

“5 million dollars to buy chocolate for school children just for chop chop? 2.5 million dollars for promotional activities. This is not how we use public funds. This is not acceptable.”

However, speaking on the same matter, former deputy minister for Agriculture, William Quaitoo said the $7 million is for the consumption of cocoa not chocolate.

“The figure is $7.5 million not $5 million, and it is not for only chocolate as we want everybody to understand it is for the promotion of consumption for cocoa generally,” he said.

Also, the Chairman of the Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee of Parliament, Kwame Asafo-Adjei said there is nothing wrong if “we should encourage our children to be eating chocolate every day, it enhances your health. So Mr. Speaker if we use part of our money to buy chocolate for our school children what is wrong? After processing the beans, the end product is chocolate.”

On November 4, 2019 the minister of information, announced that government will inject a $600 million stimulus package into the cocoa sector.

He said, “the stimulus will target rehabilitation of plantations, improvement in storage and domestic processing, stimulation of local consumption as well as efforts to increase output on farms among others and spans a 7-year period.”

“The Administration believes that Cocoa, being a major pillar of our economy cannot be allowed to survive at its own pace. Cocoa farmers who have been the backbone of the Ghanaian economy already have good news for 2020 in cocoa price structure but now get an additional dose through this stimulus package,” Mr. Oppong Nkrumah added

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