Omnifert fertilizer bought by COCOBOD in 2018 had no trial on cocoa farms – Court told

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Adu-Amponsah

COCOBOD in 2018 bought fertilizer from Omnifert Limited even though there was no evidence at COCOBOD or CRIG that the product had ever been tested on matured cocoa farms or on seedlings, the Accra High Court has been told.

When the transaction took place, Dr. Adu-Ampomah, third prosecution witness, was the Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, but he told the court that he never saw the CRIG report that should have primarily indicated whether the product had been duly tested.

A letter dated 5th March 2018 showed that COCOBOD sought permission from the Public Procurement Authority and approval was granted by a PPA’s letter dated 5th April 2018. COCOBOD, therefore, went ahead to purchase Omni Cocoa Aduane fertilizer from Omnifert based on laboratory test and not field test.

Meanwhile, Dr. Adu-Ampomah agreed with counsel for Seidu Agongo, chief executive officer of Agricult Ghana Limited, that in buying the Omnifert fertilizer, once COCOBOD applied for PPA approval and got it, “it had procured that fertilizer validly”.

The witness has been testifying against former COCOBOD boss Dr. Stephen Opuni and Seidu Agongo accused of causing financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state due to the distribution of what prosecution described as “sub-standard” fertilizer to cocoa farmers.

Moreover, Dr Adu-Ampomah in January 2020 under cross-examination had also maintained that the Chief Executive of COCOBOD cannot be held liable for any purchase sanctioned by the procurement unit.

On February 12, 2020, Lawyer Nutifafa Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo showed the witness a report on the laboratory verification of Omni Cocoa Aduane from CRIG indicating when a sample of the product was received by CRIG scientists.

“A sample of Omni Cocoa Aduane fertilizer was submitted by Omnifert limited through the Cocoa Research Institute on 16th February 2017 for laboratory verification of nutrient content,” Dr Adu-Ampomah read the report in part.

He, however, suggested that the laboratory verification of nutrient in the report “implies that previous work had been done on the product”.

He was therefore asked to turn to a page in the document to read the “conclusion” of the report, which he did.

“The laboratory verification of the content of the fertilizer sample (Omni Cocoa Aduane), shows that N and K2O are slightly above while P2O5 and pH are slightly below the specified levels indicated by the manufacturer in the MSDS. These deviations could be attributed to laboratory, equipment and human errors. The content of the fertilizer sample is therefore duly verified by the laboratory results as Omni Cocoa Aduane and good for use on matured cocoa.”

Lawyer Nutsukpui, therefore, pointed out to the witness that the Omnifert fertilizer that COCOBOD bought in 2018 was not even tested on seedlings, but Dr. Adu-Ampomah disagreed.

The impression created by the witness that field trial was done before the laboratory test tends to be a deviation from the practice at CRIG. Sample received for testing at CRIG, first go through laboratory test before clinical test is conducted on the field, 3news.com gathered.

Source: 3news.com

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