THE government has issued a stern warning to cocoa purchasing clerks not to buy cocoa from farmers who indulge in farming in the country’s forest reserves.

The reason is to protect the nation’s bio-diversity, wildlife and forest reserves which are the basis of our survival.

According to the acting director of Resource Management Support Centre of the Forestry Commission, Mr Alex Asare, the initiative is expected to completely bring an end to cocoa farming in the protected areas of the country.

The fact is the economic loss to the nation of its bio-diversity through deforestation and land degradation is estimated at $2.1billion, representing four per cent of the gross domestic product.

That by no means is a huge loss to the state which could have contributed to the development of the country.

It is true that cocoa is one of the exchange earners for the country and no one is asking farmers not to cultivate the cash crop.

But it is unacceptable for those who want to go into cocoa farming to invade reserves and destroy the environment for their parochial interests.

In fact, those who defy the orders can be rightly classified as mass murderers.

Indeed, the nation depends greatly on the forests for life because it is the source of our food, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the medicines we use to cure our aliments.

It is, therefore, right for the Forestry Commission to make the decision to stop the cultivation of cocoa and other crops in the reserves.

This will not only protect the forest but will also ensure that future generations become inheritors and not just survivors.

The Ghanaian Times expects all farmers, traditional authorities and the various local communities to take the order serious and comply with it.

We also expect the Forestry Commission, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and other stakeholders and the law enforcement agencies to ensure strict adherence to the order and those who defy the order must be punished severely and swiftly to deter others.

The country stands the risk of losing her forest cover which is estimated at the rate of about three to two per cent annually and we cannot afford to stand aloof while the destruction continues.

This is the time to put a stop to the unhealthy trend.

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