The National Best Farmer for 2017, Mr Baffour Kweku Agyamang, has told Justice Clemence Honyenuga’s court in the ongoing GHS271-million financial loss case against the ex-Chie Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, and businessman Seidu Agongo that he got to fly abroad as a result of using Lithovit liquid fertiliser on his cocoa farms.
During a cross-examination by the prosecution team comprising Stella Ohene Appiah and Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson on Thursday, 21 July 2022, Mr Agyemang said even though he had never won an award specifically for cocoa farming, “the national best farmer award encompasses the national best cocoa farmer award and cocoa cultivation”, adding: “It is true that counsel asked that I didn’t win a national best cocoa farmer award, but in the year 2017/2018, a Cocobod team of top officials including the CEO visited my farms; what I remember most is that, I gave them coconut and eggs from my farm. Also, when you win the national best farmer [award], you are not sent abroad, but because of the Lithovit liquid fertiliser applied on my cocoa farms, which gave me plenty yield, I was sent abroad. So, I can say that was also an award”.
Mr Agyemang, who had, in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that the use of the fertiliser gave him bountiful cocoa yield, stressed during the cross-examination: “…If not for the Lithovit liquid fertiliser that made me get such yield, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to travel abroad”,
In his previous testimony, Mr Agyemang had said that despite the current CEO of Cocobod, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, having been of tremendous help to him in the past, he could not lie about the fact that Lithovit liquid fertiliser – which is at the centre of the trial – was very effective for growing cocoa.
In his view, therefore, “punishing” Mr 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 by Nutifafa 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: “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?
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: “I heard from them that I wasn’t the only one who was looking for the Lithovit liquid fertiliser” after its proscription.
“The Lithovit liquid fertiliser I used really helped me”, Mr Agyemang, who said his cocoa farms, as of 2017, when he won the national accolade, totalled 184 acres, insisted, stressing: “If it did not, I will not sing its praise”.
“I 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 testimonies”.
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 Monday, 25 July 2022.