The Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD Hon. Joseph Boahen Aidoo says, giving up cocoa farms to galamsey operators for their activities will negatively affect the Ghana Cocoa Board's (COCOBOD) capacity to continue its development projects in cocoa farming communities.
Beyond its business of regulating Ghana's cocoa industry and marketing cocoa beans, COCOBOD undertakes development projects and provides amenities in cocoa communities to improve the living conditions of people in those areas.
Speaking at a cocoa farmer rally at Asankragwa in the Cocoa Western South Region on Decemebr 3, 2019, as part of his three-day working tour of cocoa farming communities in the Western Region, he cautioned that, the sustainance of the entire cocoa sector as well as COCOBOD's health, education and particularly, it's cocoa road projects will come under serious threat, if cocoa farmers lease or sell their lands to galamsey operators.
A reduction in proceeds from the sale of cocoa, resulting from a drop in the national yield will forestall ongoing projects and make it impractical to undertake new ones.
He made an earnest appeal to cocoa farmers to remain in the cocoa farming business and resist temptations to go into other cash crop farming or give up their farms for other purposes.
Instead, he said, farmers should endeavour to faithfully follow the Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) by COCOBOD to maximise yields. To ensure a bumper harvest, farmers are to prune their trees before they begin to flower, fertilize the trees when flowering begin and then practice hand pollination of the cocoa flowers.
These practices are expected to yield more than 20 bags of cocoa per acre when done effectively.
He went on to speak about the devastation which galamsey activities cause to the environment and potentially, to the health of the people in the communities and beyond.
Galamsey miners use mercury in their operations, he explained. Mercury is a heavy liquid metal which is very toxic and it stays in the environment for so many years causing havoc to the environment long after the galamsey operators have moved on.
He asked the farmers not to be enticed by promises of immediate gains from galamsey operators or buckle to pressure from chiefs or other such actors to give up their lands for galamsey.
It will be a shame, he said, for an otherwise hardworking farmer, to miss out on the good times ahead for cocoa farming because of a decision to give up a land for galamsey.