Opuni trial: Foliar fertilisers and liquid fertilisers are the same -COCOBOD director

Dr Francis Baah, Director of Research at the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has clarified that a foliar fertiliser is the same as liquid fertiliser.

According to him, two liquid fertilisers known to Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED), a division under COCOBOD, which he once headed, were lithovit and Sidalco.
Subpoenaed to testify for and on behalf of the suppliers of lithovit fertiliser, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited, Dr. Baah, confirmed that 1,211,344 litres of these foliar or liquid fertilisers were supplied to some cocoa growing regions in the country in 2014/15 crop season.

Out of this number, the Land Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Aboagye Tandoh, was informed that Ashanti region received 252,480 litres of Lithovit, Brong Ahafo got 141,600 litres of Lithovit, Central got 105,960 litres of Lithovit, Eastern had 148, 800 litres of Lithovit and Volta had 7,200 litres of Lithovit.
Dr Yaw Adu Ampomah (PW3) had previously told the court that lithovit Foliar fertiliser is a powdered fertiliser.

During a field trip by Dr Baah’s deputy, Paul Okyere Boateng and some technical officers of CHED to some cocoa growing districts, it was discovered that farmers preferred liquid fertiliser, particularly lithovit fertiliser, to the granular fertiliser form.

When asked by Mr Benson Nutsukpui, Counsel for Seidu Agongo and Agricult, whether he received any complaint as the Executive Director of CHED at the time, that Lithovit was like water and some farmers were drinking it, he answered no.

He told the court, while being led in evidence, that during the review of 2014/15 crop season by Codapec/Hitech unit, no adverse complaint on lithovit fertiliser was recorded.
Furthermore, on the claims of Dr. Franklin Amoah, first Prosecution Witness (PW1) and a former Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute (CRIG) that CHED had no business preparing field report, the witness said it is an exhibition of his misunderstanding of the functions of CHED.

The subpoenaed witness said: “If we go to the field and we do not write a report, then there would be no evidence that we have been to the field.”Dr Baah also denied the claim that the field report was prepared to favour lithovit.

Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited are standing trial with Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni as second and third accused persons (A2 & A3), for supplying adulterated fertiliser to COCOBOD to be used on cocoa farms.

Law Courts Complex, Accra

Dr. Opuni (A1) at the time was the Chief Executive of the COCOBOD from 2014 to 2016.
A1 is alleged to have ordered the testing period of lithovit shortened against CRIG procedure of testing fertilisers.

This witness has denied the claim, as he was the manager of the CE’s office at the time the purported order was given.


Q. Please turn to page 8 of Exhibit 138, do you have the report from Western North region?
A. Yes my Lord.
Q. It states that the team comprised of the Deputy Technical manager and a technical officer, is that correct?

A. That is correct.
Q. And this team embarked on a four-day trip to the Western-North?
A. Yes my Lord.
Q. The team was joined by the Regional Manager of CHED?

A. Yes my Lord.
Q. This team reported on black pod incident that they found, is that correct?
A. My Lord that is correct.
Q. Indeed, the team visited farms in cocoa districts in western north, is that correct?

A. My Lord that would be correct, given the table presented on page 8.
Q. They visited Dadiesu, Akontonbra, Juaboso, Boako and Sefwi Bekwai, is that correct?
A. Yes my Lord.
Q. They also reported on taking measurements of farms 5 to 11 years, is that correct?

A. They didn’t do the measurements, they assessed the progress of the measurements.
Q. On page 11, they also reported that the fertiliser used in Western-North was Sidalco and not lithovit, is that also correct?

A. My Lord that is correct.
Q. A suggestion was made in this court by PW1 Dr. Franklin Amoah that CHED had no business preparing this report of April 15, would that be right?

A. My Lord that would not be right. My Lord, that would represent his misunderstanding of the functions of CHED. If we go to the field and we do not write a report, then there would be no evidence that we have been to the field.
Q. On page 13, it headed field visit to monitor nurseries field operations and prospects for the light crop season cocoa in the Brong Ahafo region, is that correct Sir?

A. Yes my Lord.
Q. And the team comprised the Deputy Executive Director (M&E) and a Technical officer?
A. Yes my Lord.
Q. Do you know the Deputy Executive Director who embarked on this field visit?

A. Yes I do.
Q. Please, what is his name?
A. My Lord, his name is Mr. Peter Okyere Boateng.
Q. The team listed all the 5 districts in the region visited, is that correct?

A. Yes my Lord.
Q. They visited Bechem, then Berekum, Dormaa Ahenkro, Nkrankwanta, Goaso and Sankore?
A. Yes my Lord.

Q. They reported on monitoring of progress on a nursery site?
A. Yes my Lord.
Q. Did they show pictures of the nursery site they saw?

A. That is correct my Lord.
Q. They took pictures from the nursery site at Akrodie and Chiraa?
A. Yes my Lord.

Q. They also inspected new and rehabilitated lands that were under preparation for cocoa cultivation?
A. Yes my Lord.

Q. And they also monitored the performance of farms sprayed with lithovit liquid fertiliser?
A. Yes my lord, it is stated here.
Q. And they also took pictures of the heavy pods they saw on the Lithovit sprayed farms?
A. My Lord that is what was captured on page 16.

Q. Is it the case that your team went on a normal field trip when they came with this field report?
A. Yes my lord, this report is the outcome of the field visit and it is part of the monitoring and evaluation team

Q. When your team went on the field visit which culminated in this report, was it to do lithovit liquid fertiliser a favour?
A. I don’t think they went out on a normal field trip to do any particular product a favour.
Q. Was it to do lithovit a favour?

A. My Lord, I was not part of the team, but I would be very surprised if that was the case.
Q. Were you yourself and the monitoring team from the monitoring and evaluation department ordered or directed to prepare this report, exhibit 138, to favour lithovit?
A. My Lord, no one directed me and I believe same applied to my team to go to the field to prepare this report.

Q. Please go to page 17, the outbreak of caterpillar on some cocoa farms, which was observed in Dormaa and Nkrankwanta, were reported in Exhibit 138?
A. Yes my Lord.

Q. And again, was pictorial evidence provided?
A. Yes my Lord, there are two pictures on page 17.
Q. Page 18 even showed some pictures of the caterpillars on some farms being sprayed with insecticides?

A. Yes my Lord, I can see picture number 13 on page 18, with spraying costume and spraying machine at the back spraying.
Q. Where was this picture taken?

A. The caption shows that this picture was taken at Brofoyedru and…
Q. If you go to number 3.6 the various teams interacted with CHED officials?
A. Yes my Lord. This represents the routine when any team goes to the field.

Q. On page 19, in fact, your team warned all CHED staff strictly against taking money from farmers that you will not spare the rod and deal with anybody who was caught taking money from the farmers?

A. That is correct. My Lord, during my tenure a number of staff appointments were terminated for taking money from farmers in the performance of their duties.
Q. Also, your team warned your staff against pilfering the CODAPEC HITECH products – the agrochemicals and fertilisers?

A. My Lord, it is captured in the report on page 19.
Q. Would you say Exhibit 138, is a true reflection of the event that was captured in it on these field trips from the 7th to 26th on April, 2015?

A. Yes that represents a true reflection of what was captured
Q. You have in your hand, a document and a letter forwarding the document
A. That is correct

Q. The document is the annual report of the CODAPEC and HITECH unit for 2014/15 cocoa season, is that correct?
A. Yes my Lord.
Q. The forwarding letter is dated 28th of September 2016?

A. That is correct my Lord.
Q. And the letter is referenced CHED/ MS/2/Vol 3/02 that is correct?
A. Yes my, the document has that reference number.
Q. And the letter is signed by Dr. Francis Baah, the Executive Director who happens to be your good self?

A. Yes my Lord.
Benson: My Lord we wish to tender the forwarding document through the witness
Prosecution: My Lord we have no objection.
Codjoe: My Lord we don’t have any objection.

Court: CODAPEC/HiTECH report for the 2014/15 date 28th September 2016 is tendered in evidence through PW2/A2&A3 in the view of no objection…same is admitted and marked as Exhibit 139/A2& A3.
Q. Sir, please look at the forwarding letter, who was it addressed to?
A. My Lord, it was addressed to the Deputy Chief Executive Agronomy and Qualify Control

Q. And that is the office you report to?
A. Yes my Lord.
Q. When you send report to the Deputy Chief Executive A&QC, it is for his consumption and for COCOBOD’s management at his discretion?

A. My Lord, it is meant for his consumption.
Q. Who were copied?
A. My Lord, the Deputy Executive Director Monitoring and Evaluation, and the manager CODAPEC/ HITECH.

Q. What entails the position of manager CODAPEC/HITECH?
A. My Lord, the manager at the time is the head of the CODAPEC/ HITECH unit.
Q. Turn to the cover of the report, it is dated September 2016, is that correct?

A. Yes.
Q. Go to page 1 of the report, the first paragraph stated that the program started with a review of the previous year’s activities and the development of modalities and procedures for the implementation of the 2014/15 programmes, is that correct?

A. My Lord that is correct.
Q. And the review focused mainly on the challenges of the previous season?
A. That is correct.

Q. The system of distributing COCOBOD inputs directly to cocoa farmers was also the main issues discussed?
A. Yes my Lord that is correct.
Q. Also, of serious concern of the review at the time, was the issue of monitoring and securing the input right from the head office from the farm gate, that was also a serious issue?

A. Yes my Lord that was also an issue
Q. In this review, people who participated included your direct boss Deputy Chief Executive Agronomy and Qualify Control?

A. Yes my Lord.
Q. Also, MMDCEs also took part. Who are the MMDCEs?
A. MMDCEs stands for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives.
Q. Would these MMDCEs are they all MMDCEs in Ghana?

A. No.
Q. Which ones took part?
A. Those in the cocoa growing districts or those whose administrative authority cover the cocoa growing districts.

Q. You also have representative from the intelligence unit, is that also correct?
A. That is correct, the intelligence unit of COCOBOD.
Q. Then also the directors and managers of CHED and CODAPEC/HITECH units also participated?

A. Yes My Lord. I will like to clarify something. Two different things put together, the third paragraph of page one is talking about the engagement between the Deputy Chief Executive Agronomy and Qualify Control, the CHED Executive Director and other management of CHED, and the intelligence unit and CODAPEC HITECH. This was a meeting to review the previous year’s activities. The Fourth paragraph was a visit by the national coordinators to the MMDCEs with CHED staff.

Q. So the MMDCEs did not take part in the CHED review meetings!
A. They did not.
Q. In your review, you listed out the total quantity of fertilizers that were distributed in the year under review
A. My Lord 1.2 on page 2 of Exhibit 139 is not a review, it is making a statement of fact, stating the quantities which was distributed in 2014/15.

Q. Included in that 1,211,344 litres of liquid (foliar fertilisers) that is correct?
A. Yes my Lord
Q. In this report when CHED talks about foliar fertilizers it meant liquid fertilisers that is correct

A. Yes my Lord
Q. Please go to page 3, it is true that evacuation and distribution of fertilizer started in May 2015 and completed in August 2015 of CODAPEC/HITECH
A. Yes my Lord.
Q. The evacuation was carried out under the supervision of the COCOBOD Intelligence unit, national security and BNI (now NIB ) and staff of CHED, that is true

A. Yes my Lord.
Q. And the distribution at the district and community levels was by the district task force?
A. My Lord that is correct
Q. So the farmers’ agents, how do they relate with the district task force?

A. My Lord the district task force supervise the distribution of the inputs from the cocoa district capital to the cocoa communities and then the cocoa farms.
Q. The extensive network listed play a role in the delivery of HiTECH goods (fertilisers) to the farmers?

A. Yes my Lord, that is correct.
Q. While you were the Executive Director of CHED, did you ever get any complaint from anybody, the people in the distribution chain that any farmer in anywhere saying that Lithovit was like water and they have been drinking it

A. My Lord no, no such in information was brought to my knowledge
Q. Indeed, while you were the Executive Director, all information about fertilisers that came to your attention, you asked that it should be documented?

A. My Lord all inputs distribution ought to be documented and not only fertilisers.
Q. So, did you ask them to document all information about inputs that came to your knowledge

A. Yes my Lord
Q. At the review meeting, CHED reported on the distribution of liquid fertilisers that were made to the regions in 2014/15, page 42?

A. My Lord the distribution of the fertilisers and the other inputs as captured in table 2b on page 4 is not the outcome of a review meeting, but the actual quantity that CODAPEC allocated or distributed for 2014/15.
Q. The report only shows the activities under review that is 2014/15?

A. My Lord that is correct.
Q. Table 2(b) shows that in the year under review, 2014/15 two liquid fertilisers lithovit and Sidalco were distributed to some regions, that is correct

A. Yes that is correct
Q. Indeed, the year under review, Ashanti had 252,480 litres of Lithovit
A. Yes my Lord,
Q. BrongAhafo in the same year under review 141,600 litres of Lithovit

Q. Central had 105960 litres of Lithovit
A. Yes my Lord
Q. Eastern 148800 litres of Lithovit

A. Yes my Lord
Q. Volta 7200
A. Yes my Lord

Q. You also indicated the hectares that were covered by the Lithovit fertilizer that was distributed to those regions
A. Yes my Lord, and Sidalco fertilizer as well
Q. Indeed, Ashanti was covered by over 126240 hectares

A. Yes my Lord
Q. BrongAhafo over 708800 hectares
A. Yes my Lord

Q. Central 52980 hectares
A. Yes my Lord
Q. Eastern 74400 hectares

A. Yes my Lord
Q. Voltage 3600 hectares
A. Yes my Lord

Q. In the year under review, CHED and all the other entities involved in the distribution chain, nobody had come to complain to you about the farmers who own these hectares of farms having any issues with lithovit for that period, that is correct

A. My non that I can recall
Q. Indeed, the review is focus mainly on the challenges in the year under review and this review from page 1 to 12 did not mention any challenge or issue about lithovit liquid fertiliser?

A. Yes my Lord, none was brought to my notice, attention or knowledge
Q. Look through Exhibit 139 and see if there was any challenge or issues relating to lithovit that came out at the review meeting that reviewed the period under 2014/15?

A. My Lord, I have quickly perused the document I cannot find any complaint
Q. Sir, the review Exhibit 139 covered the CHED activities through the CODAPEC/ HiTECH unit for the year under review?

A. No my Lord, rather CHED and CODAPEC activities which were undertaken in the year under review.

Q. Concluding in page 12, the review was satisfied that the CODAPEC/HITECH activities went well in the year?
A. Yes my Lord, it is captured in paragraph 7 of page 12.

Q. Where CHED officers were implicated in incidence of theft they were dealt with?
A. Yes my Lord
Q. You had the issue of some farmers also selling agro products to agro chemical dealers and you resorted to do more farmer education?

A. Yes my Lord
Q. And all this was under the period review?
A. Yes my Lord

Q. Sir, you know Dr Franklin Amoah?
A. Yes.

Q. He told this honourable court that, “I told this honourable court that during the transitional era when, Dr.Baah was interrogated told the transitional team that Lithovit liquid induced prolific flowering on cocoa. Indeed, he stated that farmers prefer the Lithovit to the granular fertilisers, Dr.Baah stated.” Is that the true reflection of what transpired at the transitional committee?

A. Yes I think, I can recall making a statement like that.
Q. Sir do you still stand by that statement which was attributed to you by Dr.Amoah?
A. My Lord, on the basis of what I was told by the farmers when I went to the field.


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