Apremdo and Juabeso farmers clash with military authorities
9/30/2009 9:50:14 AM -
Peasant farmers at Apremdo in the Sekondi Takoradi metropolis, and cocoa farmers at Juabeso in the Juabeso District of the Western Region, have clashed with the military authorities in the region.
Whilst the cocoa farmers at Juabeso are complaining about military harassment, peasant farmers at Apremdo, on the other hand, are protesting a decision by the military personnel from the 2nd Battalion of Infantry (2BN) to stop them from going to their farms.
The Chronicle newspaper says its information indicates that the military command had written a letter to the peasant farmers, whose farms are close to the camp, to stay away for a month to avoid being hit by stray bullets.
The military claim they are conducting a special exercise which would involve the firing of live ammunition.
The farmers have however rejected the call, insisting that they cannot stay away from their farms for one month, since they depend on their farming activities for survival. That apart, the notice sent by the Military Command directing them to stay way from their farms, did not reach them early enough.
They claim the letter reached them on Saturday September 26, 2009.
They are contending that the military command should have given them enough time to prepare, and not a short notice because some of their produce are perishable.
The farmers have called on their chief, Nana Agya Kwamina XI, to speak to the military command to reverse its decision. Though the military indicated in their letter that the special training exercise would start September, 29, 2009, they started the exercise the on September 28, 2009.
Mr Nat Panye, who led a delegation to meet with the military command to resolve the impasse, confirmed the misunderstanding. For him, the decision by the command to start the special training exercise, without respecting the letter they themselves had written, had annoyed the farmers.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, who is also the Regional Minister, has appealed to the farmers to comply with the directive.
According to him, the exercise to be carried out by the military was a routine one, and the farmers should understand that.
In a related development, there could be a possible clash between cocoa farmers at Juabeso Nkwanta, and some soldiers guarding the Krukuso Forest in the Western Region, over what the former claim to be military harassment.
The farmers have vowed not to sit unconcerned for the soldiers to continue to harass them, and have therefore appealed to the government to intervene, to avoid a possible clash between them (farmers) and the military.
Some of the farmers, who spoke with the Chronicle, claimed they were being prevented from visiting their farms by the soldiers.
A 22-year-old farmer, Mr. Larbi, recounted how soldiers assaulted him and tied his hand to his neck without reason.
They also accused the soldiers of destroying their farms on the suspicion that they had encroached on the forest reserve.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Juabeso, Mr. Solomon Fuakye, reacting to the concerns raised by the farmers, noted that the soldiers were only cutting down foodstuffs of farms in the forest reserve.
He gave the assurance that steps would be taken to address the concerns of the farmers.