Cocoa Sector Under Siege

The cocoa growing sector is under siege following activities of illegal miners, particularly in the Ashanti, Western, Central and the Brong-Ahafo regions.

Statistics from the Research Unit of the COCOBOD indicate that between 1.5 and 1.7 hectares of farmlands have been destroyed due to illegal mining.

Deputy Chief Executive of COCOBOD in charge of Operations, Kwabena Asante-Poku, disclosed this to The Ghanaian Times yesterday, on the sidelines of a stakeholders platform in Accra on how to improve the sector.

He said apart from coercing farmers to sell their farms because of the high deposit of mineral resources, some of the miners forcibly entered the lands to undertake surface mining without the consent of the farmers.

The situation, Mr. Asante-Poku said, required a holistic approach for redress. He stated that because of the rampant and haphazard activities, most of the farmers were losing their lands, saying farming had been reduced to zero in some cocoa growing areas, because the entire nutrients which fed the trees had been destroyed, rendering the areas non-fertile for productivity.

Mr. Asante-Poku said changes in the weather pattern were also affecting cocoa production with some trees not growing as expected.
Pests attack on the crops, is another challenge that has affected cocoa production, he said, noting that his outfit with support from other partners, including donors were doing their best to address the challenge through the distribution of insecticides to the farmers.

Making a presentation on cocoa sector scenario, the Director of Research and Monitoring of COCOBOD, Ebenezer Tei Quartey, said the time had come to enrich cocoa farmers to improve on their lot through capacity building.

He said cocoa farmers deserved commendation, looking at their contribution not only to national development but to the international market as well.

He said factors such as low yield, low availability of social services, deforestation and loss of biodiversity were some of the major problems confronting the sector, but in spite of all those challenges, cocoa farmers have been determined to give off their best.

The National Coordinator of Cocoa Platform, Mrs. Rita Owusu-Amankwah, said the goal of the platform was to promote sustainable production in the cocoa sector.

She said there was the need to take stock of the sector and to map up its plausible future trajectory in order to identify priority interventions by public and private stakeholders to maximise the opportunities and address existing and emergent risks.

Such mapping, Mrs. Owusu-Amankwah noted, would help confirm the relevance of the existing challenges and plan interventions to address challenges in the sector.

She called for the need to strengthen coordination and advocacy for a sustainable cocoa industry. The Programme Analyst of the United Nations Development Programme, Namho Oh, commended COCOBOD for the continuous sector development and contribution to national development and assured of his outfit’s support to grow the sector.

- Times

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