Opuni trial: Lithovit liquid fertilizer was farmers’ ‘messiah’ – Farmer tells court
A Cocoa farmer from Assin Fosu in the Central Region, Samuel Torbi has told the High Court in Accra that the introduction of Lithovit Liquid Fertilizer increased farmers’ yield and described it as farmers’ “Messiah.”
Mr. Torbi who is acting as the Second Defence Witness for Dr. Stephen Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) said, its efficacy cannot be questioned.
“Farmers will not forgive that person because Lithovit liquid fertilizer is a farmers’ messiah and I also don’t believe that any staff from COCOBOD will come out and say such a thing,” he stated.
His response was after he was asked by counsel for the 2nd and 3rd Accused persons (Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited) during cross-examination what his reaction is when someone says that COCOBOD bought Lithovit liquid fertilizer for farmers to use yet COCOBOD received no value for the amounts that they had invested in the purchase of the fertilizer.
Dr. Stephen Opuni, (A1) Seidu Agongo, CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited (A2), and the company itself (A3) have been dragged to court for allegedly causing financial loss to the state.
They have all pleaded not guilty. They have been admitted to bail and are standing trial.
Being led by Samuel Codjoe, lead counsel for Dr. Opuni, the farmer who owns three different cocoa farms in Assin North and one at Assin Central to give his Evidence-in-Chief said, farmers were “happy with this Lithovit liquid fertilizer” which he termed the ‘wonder fertilizer’.
Mr. Torbi, who has been engaged in Cocoa farming for the past 17 years told the court that, his successful period was when he applied Lithovit liquid fertilizer on his cocoa farm.
According to him, prior to 2014/15, he was only using granular fertilizer when he and some farmers were introduced to liquid fertilizer – Lifet A, Sidalco, and Lithovit by CHED of COCOBOD.
He told the court that, upon the introduction of these fertilizers, a training program was organized for cocoa farmers in his district on the use of these new fertilizers which he attended.
According to the witness, at the training, the farmers were instructed on the proper use of these fertilizers and were taught how to mix the liquid fertilizers with water and their application on cocoa farms so as to achieve the proper result.
“We were further informed about the advantages of liquid fertilizers including the fact that they did not require much rain. This was the first time I was being introduced to liquid fertilizers and I was naturally fascinated by the fact that the fertilizer could be mixed in water and sprayed on the leaves of cocoa trees with spraying machines,” he noted.
He told the court that, since I had never used any liquid fertilizer and to minimize the effect of the fertilizer, “I decided to apply these new fertilizers to equal portions of my farm.”
He subsequently “obtained a total 3,687KG of cocoa beans which was the highest output I’ve ever had from my farms prior to the 2014/15 season.”
Previously, he said when he used Asaase Wura, prior to 2014/15 he obtained 3,437kg and that, due to the increase in production, he became convinced about the efficacy of liquid fertilizers.
Lithovit liquid is a ‘Wonder Fertilizer’
The farmer told the court that, in the 2015/16 cocoa season, CHED supplied him with 12 liters of Lithovit liquid fertilizer and due to the success he had had with Lifet A liquid fertilizer, he was naturally convinced about its efficacy and he also took the risk of applying it on his entire Cocobod farms.
The witness also told the court that, the risk was worth it as he harvested and sold 8,125kg of cocoa beans for the said 2015/16.
“This quantity of cocoa beans was the highest I’ve ever got and more than doubled over the previous year’s yield,” the farmer told the court.
“Having experienced the efficacy of Lithovit, in the 2016/17 cocoa season, I specifically requested the CHED officials in Assin Fosu to be supplied only with Lithovit liquid fertilizer,” but “unfortunately, I was given 8 liters as against 12 liters in 2015/2016 cocoa season.”
It was his testimony that CHED officials informed him that most of the farmers wanted the Lithovit liquid fertilizer hence they (CHED) could not give him the quantity he requested for.
He told the court that, even with the less quantity of Lithovit liquid fertilizer he received, he harvested 6,187.5kg of cocoa beans.
“This again was remarkable. I was naturally very happy with this Lithovit liquid fertilizer which I termed the ‘wonder fertilizer’.
He told the court that, being the chairman of the Cocoa Corporatise in his district and in his role, he interacted mostly with the cocoa farmers.
Farmers left disappointed
He told the court that, other farmers in his district called and informed him about the efficacy of Lithovit liquid fertilizer.
“I together with other farmers vowed not to use any other fertilizer apart from Lithovit liquid fertilizer. In the 2017/18 cocoa season, I went to the district office of CHED and requested Lithovit. But I was informed that COCOBOD had ceased supplying Lithovit liquid fertilizer.”
“I was naturally disappointed and I combed the open market hoping and willing to purchase Lithovit liquid fertilizer on the open market to apply on my farm. Unfortunately, I could not obtain any on the market,” he told the court.
Reduction in yield
The farmer pointed out that, during that season, he harvested and sold a total of 2,500kg of cocoa beans, “a significant reduction in the number of cocoa beans from the two previous seasons when I applied Lithovit liquid fertilizer on my farm.”
He told the court that, he did not apply any fertilizer on his farm during that cocoa season.
The witness said, when he applied Sidalco liquid fertilizer in the 2018/19 cocoa season, he obtained a total of 2,500kg of cocoa beans, which is again a far reduction from the cocoa beans he harvested in the 2014/15 2015/16 cocoa seasons.
“I informed my colleagues about this reduction in my farm as a result of the non-use of lithovit liquid fertilizer and they all confirmed a similar observation on their farms,” he told the court.
He also told the court that, in the 2019/2020 season, he again requested Lithovit liquid fertilizer and he was informed that COCOBOD had stopped supplying that fertilizer. He harvested 3,687kg of cocoa beans that year.
Lithovit liquid fertilizer gave the highest yield
In the concluding part of his testimony, the witness told the court that, his highest harvest was when he applied Lithovit liquid fertilizer on his farm.
“I harvested and sold the highest quantity of cocoa beans at the time I applied Lithovit liquid fertilizer to my farms. I and my colleague farmers were amused when we were informed by the district office of CHED that COCOBOD had stopped distributing Lithovit liquid fertilizer.
*I state that Lithovit liquid fertilizer is the best I have ever used on my cocoa farm and I add that it is the best fertilizer ever supplied by COCOBOD.
*I confirm that it is a liquid fertilizer and it is very effective,” the farmer told the court presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court.
The case has been adjourned to May 18 for the prosecution to continue with further cross-examination.
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