Stop ‘galamsey’ threat to cocoa sector

Cocoa is the backbone of Ghana’s economy, generating about $2 billion in foreign exchange annually. The crop is a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GPD).   

Producing many metric tonnes of the beans annually, the country is the second largest producer of cocoa and the only supplier of premium beans in the world.

About 850,000 farmer families in Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta, Central and Western North and South regions are estimated to be involved in cocoa farming and its related activities.

It is thus shocking to learn that the European Union (EU) has threatened to stop buying cocoa from Ghana if the incessant destruction of the country’s forest reserves, as a result of illegal mining, was not halted.

The threat was revealed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, during a courtesy call on the Western Regional House of Chiefs in Sekondi and reported in today’s edition of the Ghanaian Times.

According to Mr Aidoo, the EU was worried over the destruction of the forest reserves due to these illegal activities which they believe is one of the factors causing climate change.

The Ghanaian Times is concerned about the threat by the EU because the Union does not issue empty threats and one like this would result in huge losses that should be avoided, especially during a pandemic.

Between 2014 and 2017, when the EU banned vegetable exports from Ghana for non-compliance with the EU standards for the export of vegetables, the country lost about US$30 million in revenue.

As the country and, indeed, the whole world struggles to recover from the economic blows of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be a costly mistake to allow an illegal activity like ‘galamsey’ to do more harm than it is already doing.

The Ghanaian Times has observed that the energy with which the fight against illegal mining was intensified about three years ago has waned and it is almost as though the fight has been lost.

The media continues to report of seizure of equipment amongst other sanctions but the activity seems to have rather intensified because river bodies are getting more polluted, evidently from their goldish-yellow colour.

 We, as a nation, cannot give up and throw our hands in despair. The solution lies in the enforcement of the various laws and we must not disappoint the future generation.

The cocoa sector is already grappling with its challenges, including swollen shoot disease, staggering price and climate change due to human behaviour which has contributed immensely to the decline in the production of the crop.

 We know some frantic efforts have been made to improve the yield through the supply of inputs and equipment as well as other incentives, including better pricing for farmers.

All these would come to nought should we allow an illegal practice to derail these efforts. Culprits must be seen to be punished. We must endeavour to win the fight. And by all means we must win.

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