Some cocoa farmers in the country have called on the government to halt the indiscriminate sale of cocoa farms to small – scale miners.
According to the farmers, the sale and destruction of cocoa farms must be stopped immediately by government, to prevent a significant drop in projected harvest for the 2016/2017 season and in the future.
Ghana’s regulator of the industry, Cocobod forecasts production in Ghana of about 800,000 tonnes in the 2016/17 season, down from an earlier forecast of up to 900,000 tonnes.
The projected production the farmers say is not likely to be achieved, considering the rate at which farmers are giving away their farms to these small – scale miners.
Currently an acre of Land with high prospects of growing cocoa is said to be selling for as high as GH¢40,000 while lands with low yields are being sold for GH¢10,000 or more in communities within cocoa growing areas especially in the Wassa areas of the western region.
In an interview, Kwasi Nyarko a cocoa farmer within the Wassa Amenfi district called on the government to pay a little more attention in supporting the farmers to prevent a collapse of the sector.
“The government is helping us but it is not enough, look I am a chief farmer with about twenty acres of land but last year I received only 18bags of fertilizer and that was not enough. There are those who don’t even have farms but they received as much as 100bags of the fertilizer which was brought here while those with farms had less. If cocoa remains a major earner for the country, I will say the government must pay a little more attention to it.”
Mr. Nyarko says, the farmers believe the only way to survive now is giving away portions of their lands because the government intervention for cocoa farmers for the last few years has not been forth coming.
“We are selling the Lands to the small-scale farmers at our own free – will, because the yields from the cocoa do not give us anything good in monetary terms. It is also because of the hardships we go through. We cannot now even pay our children’s school fees, our even put up one block after harvesting and selling the cocoa, that is why we are selling portions of our cocoa.”
Mr. Nyarko therefore called for an even distribution of fertilizers for cocoa farmers across the country. This he said, is the surest means to reverse the current trend of cocoa farmers selling their lands to small-scale miners or in some cases illegal miners (galamsey operators) in the country.