Editorial: COCOBOD Must Go To The Aid Of Ellembelle Farmers

In the Wednesday edition of The Chronicle, we reported the story of cocoa farmers in the Ellembelle District of the Western Region, who had taken to the streets to protest against what they described as ‘wanton destruction of cocoa trees’ by illegal miners in the area.

The farmers who owned these cocoa farms that are being destroyed recounted aggressive strategy the illegal miners have adopted to seize their farms in search of gold. As a result of this, they have petitioned the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, who is also the deputy Minority Leader in Parliament, to use his good offices to avert the further destruction of their farms.

As a matter of fact, it is gradually emerging that illegal mining is not only destroying our water bodies, but cocoa as well, which is the mainstay of our national economy. We have been hearing and reading several stories about cocoa trees being chopped down to pave way for illegal mining. In some cases too, the illegal miners offer money to the farmers to destroy such important economic trees, because of the quick money they are looking for.

The development is now having a heavy toll on cocoa production in the country. In the 2010/11 crop season, Ghana produced a record 1,024,000 metric tonnes of cocoa. Surprisingly, the production of the commodity went down until the 2020/21 season when we hit the jackpot, by producing over 1,030,000 metric tonnes.

As it happened in 2010, after this record achievement in 2020/21 season, the production figure dropped to 750,000 metric tonnes the following crop season. This year, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has projected to buy between 650,000 and 700,000 tonnes. This means our cocoa production figures keep dropping every year and this should bother every Ghanaian who thinks about the interest of the country.

Apart from the smuggling of commodity to neighbouring countries such as Togo and Ivory Coast, COCOBOD has also identified illegal mining as a major cause in the decline of our cocoa production.

It is undeniably fact that Western and Western North regions are the two major cocoa producing regions in the country. Ashanti, Central, Eastern and Volta regions add to the number to make Ghana the second largest producer of cocoa in the world. It is, therefore, important that government pays attention to the cry of cocoa farmers in the Ellembelle District, who have accused illegal miners of destroying their farms in search of gold.

In a durbar held for cocoa farmers last year, COCOBOD pleaded with the farmers to report to them any attempt by illegal miners to take over their farms and that they (COCOBOD) were ready to fight for them.

It is, therefore, our contention that  what is happening in Ellembelle presents a good case for COCOBOD to collaborate with the Member of Parliament for  Ellembelle, the District Chief Executive (DCE)  to address the issue of cocoa farms destruction in the area.

We cannot certainly sit down unconcerned when the illegal miners are destroying our cocoa farms in the name of mining – Not at all! We need to sit up because cocoa plays a vital role in the economic development of this country.


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