Atiwa District farmers petition COCOBOD to clamp down on illegal mining

A group of cocoa farmers and opinion leaders from the Atiwa District of the Eastern Region have petitioned the Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, to support the communities in the district to fight illegal mining.

The petition said illegal mining operations remain prevalent in the district. The activities of the miners are rapidly destroying the environment and threatening the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.

The petitioners, who were led by Nana Obeng Akrofi, who represents farmers on the Board of COCOBOD, presented their petition at the Cocoa House in Accra. It was received on behalf of the chief executive by Mr Fiifi Boafo, the manager of the chief executive’s office.

The spokesperson for the petitioners, Mr Seth Oppong, said the illegal mining activities have caused a rise in brutal crimes, such as ritual killings and armed robbery. The prevalence of petty thefts and teenage pregnancy in the communities are also very worrying.

Cocoa farmers, he noted, are also losing their farms to miners, who often forcefully take over cocoa farms when the farmers resist their financial inducements.

Mr Oppong warned that the Atiwa District and the Eastern Region at large is at risk of recording declines in cocoa production if the illegal miners continue to expand their operations.

He noted that a worsening of the plight of the residents caused by illegal mining and a consequent drop in cocoa production within the communities will be a major blow to all the efforts being undertaken by COCOBOD through its Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) to improve production and the earnings of cocoa farmers. It will be “a great loss”, Mr Oppong said, if the efforts by COCOBOD to rehabilitate cocoa farms and the fertiliser distribution scheme, which are both sustainable strategies geared towards high productivity and the improvement of the livelihoods of farmers, are destroyed by illegal mining activities.

It is for that reason, he added, that they have come together as cocoa farmers and opinion leaders to make an earnest appeal to COCOBOD as an industry regulator, to leverage its regulatory authority and influence on government policies to bring a lasting solution to illegal mining in the Eastern Region.

Mr Oppong entreated the board and management of COCOBOD to treat the problem with urgency to avert the loss of huge financial and material resources invested in the cocoa sector.

In receiving the petition on behalf of the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Mr Fiifi Boafo thanked the farmers for their dedicated service to the cocoa sector. He assured them that COCOBOD will treat the petition with all the seriousness it deserves and work with the relevant state institutions to resolve the problem.

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