Illegal mining remains the biggest challenge confronting cocoa farmers in their bid to increase production of the country’s leading cash crop.
Farmers of local buying company, Cocoa Abrabopa, raised the concern among others at their eighth Annual General Meeting in Kumasi on Thursday.
Chairman of the farmers and the company’s council of board, Pomasi Ismail, tells Nhyira FM artisanal mining, also known as ‘galamsey’ is responsible for the recent drop in cocoa production.
He mentioned destruction of water bodies in farming communities as one of the major effects of the menace.
Other factors include non-payment for inputs supplied to farmers, abandonment of communal farming method, known in Akan as “nnoboa”, adjustment of weighing scales and climate change.
He said the drop in yield has compelled the company to pay farmers GH¢18.00 premium on a ton of cocoa, compared to Gh¢23.80 two years ago and Gh¢ 20.00 the previous year.
Mr. Ismail believes traditional leaders must urgently intervene to prevent further destruction of the environment to save the cocoa industry.
He appeals to government and all stakeholders to help curb the ‘galamsey’ threat before the country’s farm lands are totally taken over.
Despite the challenges, Mr. Ismail said Cocoa Abrabopa remains committed to its corporate social responsibilities.
The company is currently embarking on an initiative to provide 25 mechanized bore-holes across its operational areas to give farmers good drinking water.
Mr. Ismail stressed periodic monitoring of the free weighing scales provided to purchasers, adding measures will be put in place to eliminate all bottlenecks.
The AGM saw all member farmers from the five main cocoa producing regions of the country, including Volta Region, elect new regional leaders.