The abject poverty starring cocoa farmers in the face have compelled them to sell their cocoa farms as concession to illegal miners (galamsey) to mine for gold.
The practice which could spell doom for the country if not immediately arrested is said to be common in some parts of Ashanti and Western Regions where illegal mining has become the order of the day.
Available statistics indicate that every year
Early this year (2014),
But industry players are warning that the target could not be achieved due to a number of factors.
Chief among them are the relatively low prices
In the 2013 and 2014 crop year for instance, whilst
This, coupled with the continued depreciation of the cedi, motivated some of the unscrupulous farmers to smuggle the commodity to
The downward trend of the sector, which helped to sustain
But the quick money syndrome where the farms are being sold to illegal miners could exacerbate the situation.
To help reverse the trend, outgoing the deputy Minister for Trade and Industry,
The Deputy Minister noted that the unfortunate situation, if allowed to persist, could derail the government efforts at improving its cocoa production capacity towards taking its position as the leading exporter of the commodity.
The MP for Odododiodoo Constituency observed that apart from denying the country the needed production capacity, galamsey operations also pose serious environmental challenges to many farming communities and must, therefore, not be encouraged.
Speaking at a ceremony at
It currently has a membership of about 7,000 operating in seven districts of Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and the Western Regions.
Vanderpuye, who spoke on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry (MOTI), Hon. Haruna Iddrissu, observed that since
He said fertilizer subsidy, mass spraying of cocoa and payment of bonus would be sustained by government as part of efforts to motivate cocoa farmers and improve their conditions.
He said it was for this reason that the government welcomes initiatives from private partners such as Solidaridad, Noble Resources and FERRERO, whose aims were to help farmers improve their yields through modern farming practices, offer ready markets to harvest and also add value to the product through chocolate production.
The Deputy Minister further expressed the optimism that the collaboration between local farmers and their private partners in terms of technologically-advanced farming practices would also help preserve
The Managing Director of Solidaridad West Africa, Mr.
According to him, factors such as galamsey, climate changes and failure to adopt modern technology pose serious challenges to cocoa production, adding that every year
He further added that the organization is also establishing Cocoa Youth Business Groups, a programme to encourage youth who, for some reasons could not further their education, to help them enter into cocoa farming using the most sophisticated methods available.
The Programmes Manager of the Association, Mr.
He said since the association gained licence in 2010 to operate as an autonomous body, it had purchased and exported about 81,600 tonnes of cocoa abroad, stressing that the association would supply 11,000 crops and assist in plantation of 26,000 trees in its operating areas this year to help boost the efforts of members.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Dr.
He, therefore, lauded the effort of
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