The Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Samson Ahi, has bemoaned the debilitating effect illegal mining (galamsey) is having on the cocoa industry, charging Licenced Buying Companies (LBCs) to join the fight to end the situation.
Galamsey activities are rampant in all the cocoa-growing areas, especially in Ashanti, Western, Eastern, Central and Brong Ahafo Regions.
According to Mr. Ahi, very sizeable portions of cocoa farmlands have been sold out by farmers to galamsey operators for money, thereby resulting in the degrading of many lands.
Mr Ahi was speaking during this year’s Cocoa Managers Conference organised by Olam Ghana Ltd, one of the country’s leading LBCs in the cocoa industry.
“Large tracts of cocoa farmlands have been sold to these illegal miners for money. As a result, productive farmlands have been degraded, water bodies have been polluted.
As mangers who interact with farmers on daily basis, I will urge you to advise the farmers not to sacrifice the permanent benefit they would derive from the cultivation of cocoa for the temporary benefit from the illegal mining activities,” he advised.
Ghana is second to Ivory Coast in the world’s largest cocoa producing countries ranking. Ghana’s cocoa industry generates an average US$2billion in foreign exchange annually, making it a major contributor to the country’s GDP.
The sector also provides either direct or indirect employment to over 1.5 million people.
However, the cocoa industry has been faced with a number of challenges over the past years, leading to a reduction in output.
Cocoa production for 2015/2016 crop year stood at 690,000 metric tonnes, falling short by 160,000 metric tonnes of the targeted 850,000 metric tonnes. The deficit was attributed to unfavourable weather conditions and weak managerial policies of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod).
Ghana in the 2010/2011 crop season recorded a historic production level of one million metric tonnes on the premise of continuous massive investments in the shape of inputs into the sector, and effective implementation of relevant policies.
Free mass-spraying of cocoa trees, distribution of subsidised fertiliser and vigorous extension services among others occasioned the phenomenal feat the crop recorded that season.