General News of Tuesday, 3 April 2018
A 72-year-old cocoa farmer at Akim Breman in the Eastern Region has been left paralysed after her cocoa farm was destroyed to make way for commercial rubber plantations.
Comfort Ofei had returned to her cocoa farm like she does every morning to weed and found heavy machinery had moved onto the farm earlier that day and destroyed her farm.
Comfort was devastated. She collapsed and has since been left in depression.
“We were here when the rubber company came in that they were going to cut all the trees and plant para. My wife was thinking about it and she got depression.
“She was on the farm when she collapsed and we carried her to the hospital,” her husband,78-year-old cocoa farmer, James Kojo Offei explained.
Comfort is a mother of eight with plenty grandchildren. Before the incident, she was a hardworking woman, growing several acres of cocoa fields. Now, she is unable to eat or do anything else.
The family is struggling to cope with her mounting medical bills and the husband is appealing for support to cover her medical expenses.
“Because of this, we are in a difficult position and we have nothing. For about four months now, we keep frequenting the hospital. and we have spent over ¢5000 cedis we have spent on her treatment,” Mr Offei said.
Members of the Offei family are not the only victims of this phenomenon.
An SHS One student Ankomah Janset, who dropped out of school because his father cannot continue to take care of him due to the hardship brought on by the destruction of the family’s cocoa fields also told his story.
“When my father heard the bad news, he collapsed and we took him to the chief priest. He is not well now. Because of that, I don’t have anyone to take care of me,” she said.
According to him, he has been home since the incident with no one to take care of his needs to go back to school.
“I am very sad…now all of the family has dispersed,” he told Joy News.
“Because of this, we are all suffering. Now some of the girls have become prostitutes because we can’t even get job to do. And robbery is also on the increase,” he claimed.
According to leaders of the cocoa farmers association, more than 4000 acres of cocoa farms have been destroyed in the Ayensuah North District, Upper West Akim District and other parts of the Eastern Region in what is a growing concern about the takeover of small-scale cocoa lands by managers of large plantations.
“I am appealing to the chiefs, sector minister in charge of cocoa and the president to come in urgently and solve the problem,” Ohene Boafo Francis, President of West Akim Cooperative Cocoa Farmers Union told Joy News.
The residents in the affected communities are angry not only because their cocoa trees are gone, but also because the situation threatens their survival.