Over 4,000 residents from seven farming communities in the Asutifi North District in the Ahafo Region are protesting against the proposed structural rate for them by Newmont Goldcorp Ghana as compensation.
The angry residents of Yarogrumakrom, Daudakrom, Oseiwusukrom, Ananekrom, Manushell, Akorikrom and Amankonakrom have rejected a decision by both the company and Resettlement Negotiation Committee (RNC) to reduce the rate due them for resettlement to operate on their farmlands, saying it is unacceptable.
According to the protesters, since 2013, Newmont Goldcorp Ghana has been paying GH¢5,000 per house for resettlement, which figure had allegedly been reduced to GH¢2,400.
The poor farmers claim the valuer who pegged the said resettlement amount at GH¢5,000 in 2013 was hired by the mining giants, and did not understand why a reputable company like Newmont could have mistakenly paid GH¢5,000 for the past five years.
It is undeniable fact that agriculture is the backbone of our national economy. Though minerals such as gold, diamond, and manganese among a host of others, have all contributed to the current status of the economy, their contributions are nowhere near what agriculture, which is employing more than 60% of the population, has achieved.
Our successive governments have recognised this feat and, therefore, decided to institute the National Farmers Day to recognise the massive role our gallant farmers are playing for the development of Mother Ghana.
It is against this background that The Chronicle is worried over the intended destruction of farmlands and settlements of seven communities by Newmont Goldcorp in the Ahafo Region for mining activities.
The over 4,000 farmers from the seven communities have farming as their only source of livelihood. This means if they are removed from the communities or their farmlands seized for mining activities, they will become destitute in their own land.
Unfortunately, instead of taking all these setbacks into consideration, Newmont has reportedly slashed the resettlement package for the poor farmers from the initial GH¢5,000 to GH¢2,400.
Though GH¢5,000 may sound huge in the ears of the farmers, it cannot put up any decent house for them and their families to live for the rest of their lives. Yet this money has been reduced to just GH¢2,400.
When The Chronicle contacted the Communications Department of the mining giant before publishing this story under reference yesterday, they refused to make any public comment.
This means they themselves have realised that the money they are proposing as resettlement package for the farmers is nothing to write home about, yet they are bent on pushing it down the throats of the poor farmers.
This is unacceptable, and we call on the district assemblies in the area to rise up and defend the interest of the farmers. The Chronicle is equally calling on the Ministry of Natural Resources to also show an interest in the plight of the farmers by going to their aid.
We should not allow some of these multi-national companies to trample upon the rights of our people in the name of investment.