The Alliance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Agriculture, has called for a unified voice from all stakeholders against illegal gold mining activities (Galamsey).
It said that had become necessary because the activities were threating Ghana’s Cocoa sector.
Mr Anthony Selorm K. Morrison, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG), who made the call at a news conference in Accra on Thursday, said cocoa farms in Sefwi areas like, Juaboso, Bia and Akontomra Landscape area in the Western North Region, were facing aggressive encroachment by galamsey operators.
He said those areas produced a chunk of Ghana’s cocoa and food crops, and that due to ‘galamsey’ activities hundreds of farmers had lost their sources of livelihoods, while many others remained afraid of losing their farmlands overnight.
Mr Morrison stated that aside the encroachments, other farmers had reported serious defects and destructions to their farms due to the use of heavy metal-polluted water in spraying cocoa farms.
He said the community members had blamed the heightened incidence of the illegality on the lack of effective law enforcement, coordination, corruption on the part of officials, complex involvement of traditional authorities, incomprehensive collaboration and consultation among relevant stakeholders and the lack of political will.
Mr Morrison said while local communities believed in a collective action in the fight against ‘galamsey,’ they wanted to first see commitment, action and leadership by the government to stop known political leaders, chiefs and influential business women and men involved in the activity.
The Alliance called for the involvement of community members in taking collective actions against the fight, to ensure sustainability of programmes and activities, and prevent distorted communication by other powerful interest groups, when government failed to show leadership and action, he said.
The Alliance, urged the government to implement policies and budget that respected and invested in community actions and rights, ensuring that the little gains did not go to waste, and encouraged all other stakeholders, particularly the traditional authority, and politicians to play their roles and live up to expectation.
Mr Morrison said it was believed that the government was overwhelmed with current happenings, and widespread opposition against the strategies adopted for the effective combating of the menace and called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
A short video was shown presenting fresh evidence from the field to reveal the level of impunity in the fight against illegal mining showing the rate of forest loss to ‘galamsey’ destruction of precious and critical water sources for forest fringe communities and how the illegal miners have left huge trails of mud and toxic waste such as deadly mercury, poisoning water sources used by local and vulnerable communities.
Mr Morrison said it was sad and frustrating to note that until now, no traditional authority, District Assembly, Environmental and Forest institutions had owned up to any sale of land or issue of land or permits to any persons and group of miners.
He said the situation now suggested a state of apathy and a culture of silence, and urged community members, particularly groups like the Landscape Management Board in Juabeso and Sefwi to partner government to address the situation.
Mr Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, the Deputy General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU), called for a swift and effective strategy to halt ‘galamsey’ activities, which was posing a looming national health threat to current and future generations.
Mr Elijah Kofi Owusu, the Chairman, Juaboso, Bia Landscape Management Board, said the current situation was devastating and that government ought to involve all stakeholders in the fight.