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Opuni trial: No product was tested as Agricult lithrovit foliar fertiliser

botchway November 5, 2018

 

 

By Bernice Bessey     .

A principal witness in the trial of the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni, and a businessman, has told an Accra High Court that Agricult Lithrovit Liquid Fertiliser certificates, issued in 2015 and 2016, did not satisfy all due processes of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

The witness, Dr Alfred Arthur, Acting Head of Soil Science Division of CRIG, testified before the court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugan that his division never tested any product by name of Agricult Lithrovit Foliar Liquid Fertiliser.

He was explaining features on some certificates (exhibits) handed over to him by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, at the High Court last Friday, November 2, 2018.

Referring to the 2015 and 2016 Agricult Lithrovit Foliar Fertiliser certificates signed by the former Executive Director of CRIG, Dr. Gilbert Anim Kwapong, he said: “My lord, as far as I can see in the face of the certificate that am holding, the Soil Science Division of CRIG has never tested a product by name Agricult Lithrovit fertiliser.”

“…this certificate, covering Agricult Lithrovit, is same as the one signed in 2015 by Dr Gilbert Anim Kwarpong on 28th July 2016, and again, the Soil Science Division has never tested a product by name Agricult Lithrovit Fertiliser.”

Dr Arthur went on to say that Lithrovit is a patented registered product and it was always stated as Lithrovit without anybody’s name attached to it.

The Acting Head of Soil Science Division further disclosed that the said fertiliser was found be of sub-standard after a lab analysis.

This came into light when the management of CRIG asked scientists and technical officers of the soil science, plant pathology and anthropology divisions to go to the field and re-evaluate all agrochemicals and spraying machines being used on cocoa farms for the renewal of the 2018 certificate.

Samples of fertiliser, insecticides and fungicides were collected from farmers, distribution officers, and from the open market for the intended purpose.

However, one of the fertilisers found by the soil scientists and district officers at Tafo was the supposed Lithrovit foliar fertiliser, which samples were taken and sent to the lab for analysis for efficacy, he said.

“My lord, we were expecting to find lithrovit foliar fertiliser in a powdered form, however, what we picked from the field was a liquid substance, but we analysed the content of same.”

The main nutrients in Lithrovit foliar fertiliser were calcium carbonite and magnesium carbonite; the result from the lab analysis indicated that it contained 0.06% calcium carbonite and 0.86% magnesium carbonite.

Furthermore, the labelling or the packaging of the bottle did not indicate the manufacturing and expiry dates, and also there was a spraying machine displayed on same. The recommendation, as stated on the bottle, further directs that 30 milligrammes of the substance in 50 litres of water alongside with a cocoa pod displayed on the bottle.

“My lord, we find it a bit confusing, because spraying machine is a fertiliser machine used in spraying cocoa seedlings or to mature cocoa plants on the field, so based on this improper labelling of the product and the extreme low nutrient content in the fertiliser, we might not use lithrovit fertiliser,” Dr Arthur postulated.

The Prosecutor inquired of him when the re-evaluation exercise was conducted on Agricult Lithrovit Foliar Fertiliser, and he answered in December 2017.

He reiterated that lab analysis proved that the nutrient content in the product was low and also high in nitrogen concentration, and the effect of nitrogenous fertiliser was that they help cocoa trees in the production of more leaves than pods (cocoa fruits), hence the application needs to be regulated.

However, when counsel for the first defendant, Samuel Cudjoe, asked him whether in the following years – 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 – CRIG had official diaries in which information of events and activities were recorded, he responded yes, but not in all cases.

The following was how Mr Cudge cross-examined Dr Arthur over a controversial diary:

  1. Dr Arthur, as you sit here, you are aware that all the diaries are there? You (CRIG) have not destroyed them as a research institution?
  2. Yes, my Lord.
  3. So, Dr Arthur, am I right to say as you are here, you have access to these diaries, more especially, presently as an Acting Head of the Social Science Division?
  4. Diaries are given to individual research scientists, clerk, officers and others.
  5. Does CRIG, as an institution, have a diary where daily activities are recorded since you have been in employment from 2010 – 2017?
  6. My Lord that I cannot answer.
  7. You have to?

Judge intervenes: As an Acting Officer you have to answer this question.

  1. My lord I am not aware.
  2. Dr Arthur, you have been in CRIG for seven years, isn’t it?
  3. Yes.
  4. So if there exists a record book within your eight years, you would definitely have come across a diary isn’t it, which has recordings of daily activities of CRIG as an institution?
  5. My lord, CRIG has several units, divisions and sections. So there is no single book that records all activities from the various sections in a diary.
  6. But you are aware of the existence of diaries of the eight scientific divisions of CRIG, which record daily or official activities of CRIG?
  7. My lord I cannot speak for the other divisions, but for the Soil Science Division, not every single activity is recorded.
  8. So, at least, having work in CRIG, I would be right in saying that the Soil Science Division has a diary which is official?
  9. Yes. But is usually compiled at the end of the year as progress or annual report, and it becomes [the] official report of the division.
  10. Dr Arthur, the information that will be compiled from organic of document/diary has hand written of activities?
  11. No.
  12. I want to say are you very sure of what you have said so that you don’t come and change your evidence at another time that Soil Science Division has?
  13. We don’t have such a diary.
  14. All these diaries are for institutional memories purposes, and as a research institution, they are kept by CRIG?
  15. Yes.

The case was then adjourned to November 12, 2018 for furthering hearing.

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