Research conducted by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) earlier this year shows that the country has lost 19,000 hectares of Cocoa farmland to illegal mining.
COCOBOD’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Fiifi Boafo, said the land lost to illegal mining now accounts for 2% of the total Cocoa cultivation area in Ghana.
Furthermore, the findings are based on the research conducted earlier this year. Mr Boafo believes that the current situation may be worse:
Indeed, that was at the beginning of the year. We’ve commissioned another research now and we think it will be worse than this.Mr Fiifi Boafo, Public Relations Officer, COCOBOD
Bartalks reported that “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. “The farmers not only lose their livelihood but have not received any compensation for the land either.”
Moreover, the pollution resulting from mining activities has rendered the local bodies of water unusable, adding greater strain to the already strenuous farming process.
The effects of illegal mining are far more than we are talking about. River bodies within the farming bodies are so polluted farmers are unable to use them to irrigate the farm. In instances where farmers used polluted water, every flower, as well as the pod on the tree, dropped. So there is a need to carry portable water from their house to the farm to spray their Cocoa.Mr Fiifi Boafo, Public Relations Officer, COCOBOD
Apart from water pollution, Ghana’s former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Inusah Fuseini, claims that harmful chemicals such as mercury are found in the Cocoa beans themselves as a result of mining activities. Such contamination of Cocoa beans makes them harmful when consumed, and this could lead to a ban on Ghana’s Cocoa exports.
Galamseyers are not only destroying our environment, but their activities are also now targeting the economic backbone of the country. I hope you have heard that the European Union (EU) is saying that there are traces of mercury in our Cocoa. It is striking at the backbone of the economy.Inusah Fuseini, Former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Government of Ghana (source: Neat FM)
FUseini believes that the fight against illegal mining operations needs to be viewed as a threat to the country’s survival, with serious measures put in place to prevent it.
Even if we stop galamsey today, it will take the environment, including the water bodies, close to 100 years for a full restoration. That is the environmental damage. That is why elsewhere, such activities of people that damage the environment are treated as environmental crimes and are called crimes against the environment.Inusah Fuseini, Former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Government of Ghana
Fuseini says more people must be involved in the fight in order to achieve more drastic results. Otherwise, there is a risk that Ghana’s main export commodity, and thus its economy, will be jeopardised.
Early data from anonymous sources suggest that the country will harvest approximately 685,000 tonnes of Cocoa beans in its mid-crop season, which runs from July to September. In comparison, Ghana’s crop in the previous year reached a record of around 1.05 million tonnes.
Ghana produced only 641,000 tonnes of Cocoa in June this year, compared to 965,493 tonnes in the same month last year. In June, COCOBOD was anticipating another 40,000 tonnes to be harvested by September. Mr Boafo was previously optimistic that Ghana would “bounce back strongly.”