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Lithrovit fertiliser was not tested in 2015 -Prosecution witness

botchway April 18, 2019

 

By Bernice Bessey           .

Dr Alfred Arthur, second prosecution witness (PW2) in the trial of the former Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a businessman, was discharged yesterday by an Accra High Court presided by an Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Clemence Honyenugah.

Dr Arthur, who had been in the witness box for almost five months, ended his submission before the court on a strong note. That the controversial agrochemical, Lithrovit Foliar Fertiliser, was, in fact, never re-evaluated in 2015, though it had certification.

He stated that the chemical properties on the certificate of the Lithrovit fertiliser in 2015, which should be powdery, was way below what was re-evaluated in 2014.

For instance, he said, in 2017, in a re-evaluation of products for certificate renewals for 2018, it was noted that Agricult Lithrovit Foliar Fertilizer plus 5% urea had 06.06% calcium carbonate as against over 70% Calcium Carbonate  Lithrovit Foliar Fertiliser from Germany is supposed to contain. For magnesium carbonate, the sample analysis had 0.26% magnesium carbonate.

Dr Arthur made this revelation when being cross-examined by counsel for businessman Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, Benson Nutsukpui.

The following are questions (Q) and answers (A) that Mr. Nutsukpui threw at PW2:

Q: Dr Arthur, included in your duties at CRIG is the training of farmers. That is true?

  1. Yes, my lord.
  2. In 2014, did you train farmers?
  3. Yes.
  4. You would normally train the farmers on good agricultural practices?
  5. Yes.
  6. Where did you train the farmers in 2014?
  7. In July 2014, we had CRIG YARA sensitisation or training of farmers on the use of nitrabor granular fertiliser in the Western Region.
  8. Was that the only training you did in 2014?
  9. Yes, as far as I can remember.
  10. Did you train farmers in 2015?
  11. I cannot remember that.
  12. Did your training of farmers take you to the Brong Ahafo Region?
  13. As far as I can remember, in 2014, the training was in the Western Region and I was in charge.

Judge: The question is about training in the Brong Ahafo Region.

  1. No, my lord.
  2. In 2014/15 you never trained farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region. That’s what you said?
  3. Yes.
  4. Did you have field duties in the Brong Ahafo Region in 2014 and 2015?
  5. Yes, my lord. As I have already told the court, field testing of fertilisers are done across the cocoa growing regions.
  6. In which other regions between 2014 and 2015 did you have your field operations?
  7. Eastern, Ashanti, Central, Western.
  8. It is true that in 2016, you again trained farmers?
  9. I can’t remember.
  10. You also had field operations in 2016?
  11. Yes.
  12. In which regions did you have field operations in 2016?
  13. Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern and Western regions.
  14. Which of the cocoa growing regions did you not cover during this period?
  15. Volta Region.
  16. Do you know the regions to which Lithovit was distributed in 2014?
  17. No, my lord.
  18. What about 2015?
  19. No, my lord.
  20. Do you know about 2016?
  21. No, my lord.
  22. Dr Arthur, while working at CRIG during 2014, 2015 and 2016, did it come to your knowledge that Lithovit was being distributed to farmers in the cocoa growing regions?
  23. No, my lord.
  24. And while working in the cocoa fields on your operations in 6 of the 7 cocoa regions, did it not come to your knowledge that Lithovit fertiliser was distributed to farmers?
  25. No, my lord, but in terms of cocoa regions, we have seven regions – Western North and Western South.
  26. Indeed, Dr Arthur, your operations covered both Western North and South?
  27. Yes, my lord.
  28. It is true that throughout 2014, 2015 and 2016, there was no complaint from you in respect of Lithovit?
  29. Yes, my lord, during those periods, as I have already told the court, there was no re-evaluation of Lithovit Folia Fertiliser.
  30. It is your position, during these 3 years specifically, you never saw the product, Lithovit Liquid Fertiliser on any of your field visits?
  31. Yes, my lord.
  32. And your attention was also never drawn to the product by any farmer in the three years period, that is correct?
  33. Yes, my lord.
  34. So the first time you had an opportunity to discuss or comment on the Lithovit Fertiliser was when it was supplied by Agricult at the police station, that is correct?
  35. My lord, it was at EOCO on July 4, 2017, that was when I saw Agricult Lithovit Folia Fertiliser plus 5% urea, which on the bottle was indicated 1 litre, indicating that the product is a liquid substance. So I told the officers that the Lithovit fertiliser that I worked on in July 2013 was in a powdery form from Germany.

Q: Sir so, in the three years material period, you, Dr Arthur never complained about the product, did you?

  1. No, my lord. I never saw the product during the periods under review.

Q: Tell this honourable court if you know, again, in the three years there was no correspondence from CRIG complaining about the product?

  1. Not that I know of.
  2. Do you know of any complaint from any office or officer of COCOBOD on the product in the material years of 2014, 2015 and 2016?
  3. No, my lord.
  4. And there was also no complaint from the procurement department on the product for the 3 years?
  5. No, my lord.

Q: And there was also no complaint from the procurement department on the product for three years?

A: No, my lord.

Q: Now, as an officer of CRIG, and at your meetings, had any complaint from any farmer in relation to Lithovit been brought to your attention as an officer of CRIG?

A: No, my lord.

Q: I am putting it to you, Dr Arthur, that it is not true that you have never seen the product, Lithrovit fertilizer, which was distributed to farmers from 2014, 2015 and 2016.

A: My lord, it is up absolutely true that I have never seen the product during those periods.

Q: I am further, Dr Arthur, putting it to you that Lithrovit was widely distributed in the major cocoa regions during the three year period.

  1. My lord, I am not privy to this information.

Q: I am putting it to you further, that it is impossible to work in six out of the seven regions in three years and not having come into contact with Lithrovit?

A: My lord, it is more than possible. The field operations that I talked about were in connection of testing a new fertiliser sample that has been brought to CRIG for testing. We only select a farmer in a district, demarcate the plot, and apply the fertilisers. So this is different from organising sensitisation or training programmes for farmers.

  1. Dr Arthur, it is true, is it not, that when cocoa farmers have problems with any product they complain loudly?

A:  My lord in my workings at CRIG, we usually get complaints when we go for the re-evaluation of products for certificate renewals.

  1. I am putting it to you that is it because the farmers had no complaint with lithrovit in 2014, 2015, 2016 and, indeed, 2017, when they were using the product?
  2. My lord that is not true.

Proceedings were adjourned to May 2, 2019.

 

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