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Ghana’s Cocoa Farms Turned Into Illegal Mining Sites

 

In a rather unseemly turn of events while on a tour within the week to inspect the progress of the ongoing Mass Pruning exercise, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo and his entourage from the cocoa authority came upon the site of a cocoa farm which had fallen victim to the devastating activities of galamsey operators (illegal miners).

Frightened at the approach of the COCOBOD team to their base of operation, the miners quickly took to their heels in different directions, leaving behind their tools and machinery as they disappeared into the surrounding bushes.

Mr Boahen Aidoo and his team were returning after having interacted with some executives and members of a cocoa-farmer cooperative at Osino, in the Eastern Region, who, incidentally, had complained about the activities of illegal miners in their community, during the interaction.

On the drive back, the team noticed a series of pits, starting from the edge of a farm along the road.

The pits, which appeared to continue deep into the farm, were indicative of galamsey operations on the farm and that prompted the decision to stop to inspect that farm.

Mr Boahen Aidoo

The sizes of the pits were visibly bigger and more destructive as the team walked through the farm, until they came upon a vast clearing in the middle of the cocoa farm where cocoa trees used to grow, but now it had become the site of a major galamsey operation.

Here the land was cratered with some of the largest mining pits, many soil layers into the ground.

What used to be arable land was now a scene of devastation.

Undoubtedly disturbed by what he had witnessed, Mr Boahen Aidoo described the scene as a “very very sad” state of affairs which amounted to the destruction of “the backbone of the economy”.

“You can see around the way illegal miners – galamsey operators – have devastated, not just the land, but the cocoa farm which used to be here,” the COCOBOD Boss said in his condemnation of the situation. “…now everything is gone. They’ve just destroyed everything. They’ve devastated this land and then the cocoa which is the backbone of the country. So, more or less, it is the economy of the country which is being destroyed. These are clear saboteurs of Ghana.”

The activities of galamsey operators are the major challenges faced by cocoa farmers in Ghana, and the industry at large.

The menace threatens to undo the investments made by the government to modernise cocoa farming and increase yields.

The Eastern Region – where this incident occurred – together with the Western, Western North and Ashanti Regions are the worst affected by the illegal mining.

“The president has called upon all of us to desist from illegal mining; to stay away from Galamsey, yet, you have recalcitrant citizens who are still bent on illegal mining,” Hon. Boahen Aidoo bemoaned.

“I think this used to be somebody’s farm. The person has toiled, sweated over the years to grow these cocoa. …they just destroyed everything. And if you can get people in Ghana to be destroying our own economy; the backbone of the economy.

Then what is the fate of this country? It’s sad and I think the security agencies will have to step up their operations on these illegal miners because if we are not careful, they will destroy the entire cocoa industry.”

Mr Boahen Aidoo called on the security agencies to intensify their fight against galamsey.

“[When] they come [and] farmers are not interested in giving their lands, then the next time they go to their farms, they find that the farms have already been invaded and then vandalised. So, I’m using this opportunity to call on the security agencies to step up their efforts in dealing with galamsey. It’s sad. It’s very very sad to come and see the toil of farmers rendered to this state. It’s very sad,” he said.

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