I renewed lithovit’s certificate because there was no adverse finding against it – Former CRIG boss tells court

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The former Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dr. Anim Kwapong has confirmed the efficacy of lithovit liquid fertilizer, explaining why certificate of the product was renewed, paving way for COCOBOD to purchase it.

Dr. Kwapong emphatically told an Accra High Court that before any agrochemical is renewed, CRIG would have to satisfy itself that it is a good product and recommend same to COCOBOD.

In the case of lithovit liquid fertilizer, the former head of CRIG who personally renewed lithovit’s certificate said no adverse finding was found against the fertilizer.

“There was no adverse mention or anything or report in the CODAPEC Evaluation Report [against lithovit] so I went ahead and signed [the renewal certificate],” Dr. Anim Kwapong told the court presided over by Justice Aboagye Tandoh on Tuesday.

He was giving his evidence in chief in the trial of former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, have been facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretense, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act in the purchase of Lithovit liquid fertiliser between 2014 and 2016.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail each.

It has been the case of the state that lithovit was a powdered substance but COCOBOD then headed by the first accused, connived with the second accused, to purchase untested lithovit liquid fertilizer, which prosecution described as substandard.

But that position has roundly been discredited by various witnesses including a star witness of the state, Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, who first received lithovit fertilizer before forwarding same to CRIG for testing.

Dr. Adu-Ampomah, who is a former Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD under cross-examination in November 2019, was confronted with an exhibit which is supposed to be the lithovit that was tested, but his response shocked the court.

“My Lord I don’t know where this [exhibit] is coming from. This is not what came in 2013; I don’t know whether this is the sample that you are showing to me,” he said in court.

Now, Dr. Anim Kwapong who retired from CRIG, the research division of COCOBOD, on 11th December 2022 said he has always known lithovit fertilizer to be a liquid substance.

He also gave a vivid account of processes that led to the renewal of certificate for lithovit liquid fertilizer by CRIG in 2016.

“The Committee for Testing Chemicals and Machines (CTCM) will make sure that the requisite payment would have been made. They provided to me a field report, this field report contains information on field studies they have carried out on all agrochemicals and machines used in the previous years. During the period when certificate had been issued and chemicals had actively been used in the field.

“So the committee collects information about the efficacy of the product, farmers’ reactions and comments about the product they have used. They also pick samples of the product on the market and from other sources for testing at CRIG. They also check that the labels on the product conform to the information that was originally provided to the scientist.

“They write an annual report, titled CODAPEC Evaluation Report. With that report, I’m able to know chemicals that have passed the test in the field. And when they are submitting the renewal certificate to me they attach the expired certificate. So with this information available to me I’m able to sign the certificate. I do that for all the certificates that I signed. So in signing the first certificate, the first certificate here was attached to the one that I signed in 2016 and they had paid for the renewal, and there was no adverse mention or anything or report in the CODAPEC Evaluation Report so I went ahead and signed.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Anim Kwapong has also denied telling a Committee chaired by Dr. Adu-Ampomah in 2017 that he had seen the powdered form of lithovit fertilizer.

 The witness indicated to the court that he was surprised that the committee included in its report that he said lithovit was powder.

 “You were speaking the truth when you informed the committee that the first sample of Lithovit that ‘I saw personally was liquid, and I didn’t have any idea that in the past it was powder, it was recently that I got to know that it was powder’, that was the truth isn’t so?” Counsel for Dr. Opuni, Samuel Codjoe asked the witness.

Dr. Kwapong maintained, “My Lord, I have not seen this document before, this is the first time I’m seeing the proceedings of the committee, indeed I mentioned the first time I saw lithovit was liquid, but this continuing statement saying I got to know that it was powder, I don’t believe I said that. The first time I saw the sample it was liquid and it was bottle. My Lord this sentence being attributed to me [that lithovit was powder] cannot be right.”

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