Kejebril (WR), Mar. 20, GNA - Mr Hassan Idris, the Chairman of the Supreme Consultative Council of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), has called for the disbanding of illegal small-scale mining activities in cocoa growing areas.
He appealed to the Minerals Commission to stop issuing licenses to mining companies to operate on mining concessions located within cocoa growing areas since the practice negatively affected their farms, surrounding water bodies and the environment.
He also appealed to the traditional authorities and land owners to refrain from selling or releasing lands to illegal miners for mining.
Mr Idris made the remarks at a stakeholders' meeting of cocoa farmers and staff of COCOBOD at the Kejebril Warehouse Complex of COCOBOD in the Western Region.
The Supreme Consultative Council of COCOBOD is the unionized body of cocoa farmers and the staff of COCOBOD that champion the welfare of its members.
The Chairman of the Council said the erratic rainfall pattern last year resulted in decline in cocoa production and asked Ghanaians and political party activists not to politicize the matter.
He urged cocoa farmers to desist from smuggling cocoa beans to neighbouring countries saying offenders would be arrested and prosecuted.
He said prices of the commodity had been increased to an appreciable level in recent years farmers must reciprocate the gesture by selling the commodity in the country.
He said COCOBOD contracted syndicated loan of $1.7 billion dollars in 2014/2015 cocoa season to purchase cocoa beans from farmers and other inputs such as fertilizers and chemicals for mass spraying exercise.
In addition, he said, COCOBOD contracted another syndicated loan facility amounting to $1.8 billion dollars in 2015/2016 cocoa season due to the good reputation of the country on the global market.
So far, he said, sixty million seedlings had been supplied to farmers for the cocoa planting season while conditions of service of COCOBOD workers had been enhanced with soft loans to purchase vehicles and motorbikes as well as those who want to own houses.
He commended Dr Stephen Kobina Opuni, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOB, for introducing innovative programmes including Youth in Cocoa Production and assured the management of the support of the Council to ensure the implementation of sound programmes to enhance cocoa production.
Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, the National Chief Farmer for Ghana Cocoa Coffee Shea- nut Farmers Association, noted that cocoa was a vital commodity to the socio-economic development of the country therefore any mishap in the management of the cocoa industry would have dire consequences on the country's economy.
In this vein, he said, Government had increased the price of a bag of cocoa beans between GH¢ 120.00 and GH¢ 425.00 from 2009 to 2016 which had enhanced the financial status of cocoa farmers.
Nana Johnson Mensah, the Western Regional Chief Cocoa Farmer said, over the years, the government had supplied cocoa farmers with free cocoa seedlings, fertilizers and fungicides for mass spraying.
However, undue delays in releasing the inputs during cocoa planting season had negatively affected production levels and appealed for early supply of such inputs, he said.
Nana Mensah appealed to the government to increase supply of solar torch-lights and solar streetlights to cocoa farmers and communities to improve their standards of living.