The Oxford Business Group (OBG) has warned that Ghana risks losing a substantial part of its agriculture land due to the activities of illegal miners popularly called ‘Galamsey’.
According to the group, galamsey activities also pose a major danger to Ghana’s cash crop—cocoa, which has been a significant contributor to economic growth and foreign earnings for the country.
A statement released by the group said that , “Another concern is the proximity of illegal and small-scale mining to cocoa plantations, as heavy metal poisoning and pollution are degrading the land and affecting freshwater and underground aquifers.”
More alarming it pointed out that weather patterns in sub-sahara Africa is getting worse making it difficult for the region to achieve its food production target, hence the need to stop degradation of the environment through the activities of galamsey.
“The proliferation of illegal mining also takes an environmental toll, negatively affecting the cocoa segment,” it said.
It added that while most of Ghana’s agricultural output was rain-fed, with the drought impacting production across the sector more broadly, cocoa was particularly vulnerable to the harmattan, which dried seeds and eroded yields.
Ghana’s cocoa production fell short of industry forecasts for the 2015/16 growing season.
“The latest result is also well below Ghana’s 2014/15 cocoa output, which totaled 730,000 tonnes, below COCOBOD’s forecast of 1m tonnes, due to an outbreak of black pod disease and adverse weather conditions that year”, the statement said.
It said the low 2014/15 harvest meant that for only the third time in the past decade, cocoa had to be imported from Côte d’Ivoire to cover the shortfall.
Crop production for the 2015/16 growing season, which spans October to September, reached 690,000 tonnes, although this fell short of the 850,000-tonne projection made by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD)
According to the statement by the OBG, yields from both the main harvest and the secondary harvest, which began in late June, were impacted by a prolonged and particularly severe harmattan, a dry wind that blows in from the Sahara Desert, as well as by low rainfall at critical times during the growing cycle.
By: Lawrence Segbefia/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana