Editorial: China is producing cocoa, but her nationals are in Ghana destroying our forests
The People’s Republic of China recently announced to the world that she had started producing and exporting cocoa to Switzerland. The announcement sent shivers down the spine of Africa, especially Ghana and Ivory Coast, who, together, produce about 60 percent of the world cocoa. If one considers the rapid development taking place in China in recent years, especially in the area of technology and agriculture, it will not be far-fetched for The Chronicle to conclude that in a few years to come, the socialist country would be the world largest producer of cocoa.
Should this happen, Ghana and Ivory Coast, which depend mainly on cocoa for the survival of their respective economies, will be at a very disadvantageous position.
This is the reason why the two West Africa countries must not joke with the announcement that China has started producing cocoa. They must devise a strategy to double their production, and also improve upon the quality of cocoa they produce.
It is, however, interesting to note that whilst China has started producing cocoa, her nationals are in Ghana destroying the very land we also use in producing the commodity. In recent years, hundreds, if not thousands, of Chinese have invaded our forested lands and destroyed them through illegal mining activities. Unfortunately, our governments pretended as if nothing was going on until they started polluting out water bodies as well.
Today, not only is it dangerous to drink water from rivers Ankobrah and Pra, but almost all aquatic species in these two important rivers are also dead. Aisha Huang, a Chinese national who was one of the people behind these massive pollutions, was arrested, but strangely set free and allowed to leave the country. Knowing very well that we are a toothless mongrel which can bark but cannot bite, more Chinese are trooping into the country to engage in illegal mining whilst their lands back home are being preserved for cocoa production.
The Chronicle, therefore, supports the renewed effort by the government to clamp down on illegal mining activities in the country. A statement released early this week suggested that about 200 soldiers had been deployed to patrol on rivers Ankobra and Pra to stop those doing alluvial mining. Already the deployed soldiers have reportedly arrested some people, including Chinese nationals.
Looking at the way our water bodies have been destroyed, it will be a backward decision if these Chinese and their Ghanaian counterparts who have been arrested are not prosecuted. The Attorney General’s Department must haul them before the courts and have them jailed if they are found guilty of destroying our water bodies. This is the only way the country will send a strong signal to outsiders that enough is enough about illegal mining in Ghana.
Government should not gloss over the fact that some traces of mercury have been found in our cocoa, and this is threatening the marketability of the commodity on the international market. We should not, therefore, sit down for a few individuals to destroy what has kept the wheels of our economy running for many years. Gone were the days when farmers could fetch water from rivers and creeks to drink whilst on their farms working, but they cannot do so today, because the rivers have been heavily polluted by illegal miners.
Therefore, apart from our economic interest that is being threatened, the lives of the people too have come under threat. We dare say this country will be laughing at wrong side of her mouth if these threats are not dealt with expeditiously.
One can imagine where this country will be without cocoa production. Let those who have ears listen to these issues we have raised.