Management of COCOBOD has described the upsurge in illegal mining in cocoa growing areas especially in the Fanteakwa South District of the Eastern Region as a worrying national crisis that needs immediate intervention by government.
According to COCOBOD, the activities of these miners and the use of mercury by licensed small scale mining companies do not only destroy water bodies that farmers depend on for irrigation, but also affects the quality of cocoa beans from the polluted soil.
Speaking to Citi Business News on the sidelines of the a sod cutting ceremony for the construction of the first ever Sensory Evaluation and Bean Quality Laboratory and a Quality Training Centre at Akyem Tafo in the Eastern Region, to be constructed by Japanese firm, Ezaki Glico TCHO at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana Akyem Tafo, the Deputy CEO of COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, Dr. Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh, said COCOBOD has begun educating farmers not to sell off cocoa farms to these miners.
“COCOBOD is very worried about the developing activities of these ‘galamseyers’. What we are currently doing is that we are trying our best to engage the farmers and educate them on the importance of keeping their cocoa farms because if you allow someone to buy your piece of land on which you have cocoa, and the person gives you GHS 10,000, in no time you will spend that money; meanwhile, the land and cocoa trees are completely gone. But if you allow your cocoa trees to grow with these interventions we have brought, the farmers can stay on the land for a long time and benefit from the cocoa”.
While acknowledging that the lands do not belong to COCOBOD, he said they can only educate and engage the farmers because they’re in partnership with them.
“The land does not belong to COCOBOD, but it’s a government private partnership, so all that we do is to continue engaging farmers to let them understand why they shouldn’t give their lands to the miners. They are destroying our lands, polluting our environment and we all know the consequences of all that we are doing”.
Dr. Emmanuel Dwomoh urged the media to join in educating the farmers on these things, as well as chiefs giving out lands for illegal mining.
“I will plead with the media to let us educate the farmers whenever we get the opportunity because most of them do not know; and because of today’s little financial pressure on them they sell off the lands, the lands are then destroyed, not reclaimed with the cocoa trees and that ends it. Therefore, we should continue with the education, our chiefs who are custodians of the lands and all those who matter when it comes to cocoa and places where we have river bodies with ‘galamsey’ activities going on, should all be made aware of the devastation being caused”.
“We are killing ourselves gradually because when they do this ‘galamsey’ they use certain chemicals like mercury which we all know that for years it will still remain in the soil”.
COCOBOD to launch motorized pruner to improve cocoa yields
Meanwhile, management of COCOBOD says it will soon launch a motorized pruner and cocoa irrigation project, to improve quality yields and help farmers make more money without expanding their farms.
Dr. Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh says efforts are underway to engage and attract the attention of cocoa farmers.