The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong, is optimistic that recent increase in the producer price of cocoa in Ghana will make it unattractive for farmers to sell their lands to illegal miners.
The Cocoa Board Ghana (COCOBOD) said in a recent report that most of the farmers are giving out their cocoa lands to illegal miners in exchange for lucrative earnings, a development that experts say has dire economic implications.
According to a report published by Bar Talks, the West African country has lost 19,000 hectares of cocoa farmland to illegal mining. The research, commissioned by COCOBOD, also said “3,000 hectares of land previously used for cocoa cultivation in the Eastern Region of Ghana has been taken away from farmers,” as some chiefs allegedly sell land for illegal mining.
President Akufo-Addo has announced a 63.6% increase in the producer price of cocoa from GHC12,800 per metric tonne (GHC800 per bag) to GHC20,943 per metric tonne.
This means that farmers will be paid GHC1,308.99 for every 64-kilogram bag of cocoa beans sold to licensed buying companies.
Speaking on Saturday (9 September) at Tepa in the Ashanti Region, President Akufo-Addo said the new price was the highest paid to farmers anywhere in West Africa in over 50 years.
Appearing on the Asaase Breakfast Show on Monday (13 September), Acheampong said Ghanaians must collaborate with the government in addressing the galamsey (illegal mining) menace.
“The galamsey is not just bad for cocoa sector but also our environment, and so government action and public support must all be employed to deal with it, else it will have a significant consequence on our lives.
“If you are paid an acre of land of about GHC10,000 and acre of cocoa will not give you GHC10,000, then you are tempted to sell off the land, the only challenge is that the following year you may not get the same money from galamsey, but you can get another GHC10,000 from cocoa,” Acheampong said.
Listen to Bryan Acheampong in the attached video clip below:
The good and the bad
Cocoa generates about US$2 billion in foreign exchange annually and is a major contributor to government revenue and GDP. In 2021, in real terms, the contribution of cocoa to GDP was about US$533 million, according to the 2022 Cocoa Sector Report by GCB Strategy and Research Department.
Overall, in the 2020/2021 crop season, a little over one million metric tons of cocoa beans were produced in Ghana.
Six main regions in Ghana cultivate cocoa – Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Volta and Western regions. Due to fluctuating rainfall and decreasing fertility of soils, production has moved westward to the point where the Western region is Ghana’s main producer of cocoa, which accounts for 43% of the total 766,977 tonnes of annual regional cocoa purchases in 2019/2020.
However, illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, has become rampant in western Ghana heightening fears it could spread further into cocoa farms. COCOBOD said in a report by the GNA that it has lost US$407,320,336 (GHC4.8 billion) worth of investment in 35 hectares of cocoa farms to illegal mining activities at Boinso in the Western Region.
Reporting by Fred Dzakpata in Accra
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