Government will not be able to continue with its development projects in cocoa-growing communities, particularly the construction of the good roads and also give attractive educational packages including scholarships if cocoa farmers choose to give out their farms to illegal miners, COCOBOD CEO Joseph Boahen Aidoo has warned.
Apart from its core mandate of regulating the country’s cocoa industry and marketing cocoa beans, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) also undertakes development projects especially in cocoa growing areas to better the living standards of residents.
At a cocoa farmers’ rally at Asankragua in the Wassa Amenfi West District of the Western Region COCOBOD CEO Joseph Boahen Aidoo expressed worry that some cocoa farmers are being enticed to give their farms to illegal miners for galamsey.
“We know how these illegal miners are chasing you with money for your lands. But be careful. The chemicals they use for their activities especially mercury is very harmful. It will stay on your land even after mining is over and will destroy your land forever. You can also die if you come into contact with it.”
Mr. Boahen Aidoo continued: “If you look at the benefits of cocoa farming and galamsey, that of cocoa farming far outweighs galamsey. Even when you plant your cocoa you can still decide to plant other crops on the same land. There will be no harmful chemical like mercury that will destroy your land. You will also get so many incentives and technical advice which will guarantee a bumper harvest.”
He also reminded them that government’s programmes designed exclusively for cocoa farmers will cease if revenue from the cocoa sector dwindles.
“Everywhere we go, one appeal that keeps recurring is that government should construct our roads. As a listening government we have taken it in good faith. Now COCOBOD has signed a pact with government called ‘concession agreement’. And we are going to vigorously construct cocoa roads and for ten years COCOBOD will manage those roads.”
He said: “It is the proceeds that government get from selling your cocoa beans that will enable us to pursue this laudable agenda to get cocoa roads rehabilitated. So, in the event you give your cocoa farms out for galamsey the revenue targets will not be met and in the end, government will also not be able to get the needed revenue to construct your road.
“So, you should know as a matter of fact that the sustenance of the entire cocoa sector as well as the ability to construct your roads, provide social amenities, give scholarships is entirely in your hands. I will therefore plead with you not to give your farms out for galamsey.”
He therefore encouraged cocoa farmers to, instead, endeavour to follow judiciously COCOBOD’s Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) that guarantees maximize yields.
“To ensure a bumper harvest, farmers are to prune their trees before they begin to flower, fertilize the trees when flowering begins and then practice hand pollination of the cocoa flowers. These practices are expected to yield more than 20 bags of cocoa per acre when done effectively.”