The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has strongly criticized Nawara Mining Company for causing significant damage to cocoa farms in the Fanteakwa South District and Abuakwa North municipality of the Eastern Region.
The condemnation follows a petition from a group of farmers who allege that the mining company forcibly took over their cocoa farms, claiming the land falls within their concession.
Agitation by farmers intensified as the company undertook new prospecting, digging about a hundred holes in cocoa growing areas.
However, the affected cocoa farmers argue that these farms have been their source of livelihood for many years, stating the adverse impact of destroying them.
Fearing the loss of their farms, some of the farmers have entered negotiations for compensation from the mining company, resulting in the substantial loss of cocoa farms.
The leader of the affected cocoa farmers, Humphrey Ayisi, stated that the mining company has destroyed over 10,000 acres of cocoa farms in the enclave in the last few years.
He said this is having a severe impact on the livelihoods of farmers.
“Cocoa sector employs over 750,000 families in Ghana. Globally it employs over 2 million workforce but surface mining and galamsey are destroying everything that if we are not careful, it will destroy our source of livelihood, agriculture, and water,” Humphrey Ayisi said.
He added “The cocoa that the mining company is destroying affects Ghana. We have not gotten specific data but when you look at the destruction caused to cocoa farms over the years till date in this area, we are taking in access to 10,000 acres.”
He called on the government to ban Nawara Mining Company from undertaking mining activities in cocoa-growing communities in the area.
“The company should first reclaim the land, ensure that the polluted river birim is made clean and there should also be a ban on mining in cocoa growing communities.”
Nawara Company however explains that farmers affected by its current prospecting activities have been compensated.
“We met the chiefs before we met the farmers for engagement. Wherever we did prospecting, we paid compensation to farmers. As we speak, there are more farmers trooping into our sites for us to do prospecting. So as we speak, there is no farmer that we have not compensated. Every single farmer has been compensated. We are doing almost hundred (100) holes for prospecting. We have done the first (20) holes which have affected five farmers and we have paid their compensation. This week we have done 6 holes and we are paying compensation for the farmer,” the company said.
In an interview, Prof. Michael Kwateng, the Head of the Anti-illegal Mining Unit of Ghana COCOBOD, was displeased by the destruction of the cocoa farms by the Nawara Mining Company.
He called on the Minerals Commission for due diligence before granting mining concessions in cocoa-growing areas.
Highlighting a critical factor contributing to the issue, Prof. Kwateng pointed out that mining concessions covering cocoa farms are sometimes allocated to miners without the consent of COCOBOD, violating clear legal provisions of the Economic Plants Protection Act.
He said the law stipulates that all relevant stakeholders, including COCOBOD, EPA, Minerals Commission, Forestry Commission, and Ghana Water Company, must endorse a land area after proper prospecting before designating it as a mining concession.
Prof. Kwateng reiterated COCOBOD’s commitment to addressing issues related to the unlawful destruction of cocoa trees through the Economic Plant Protection Act.
COCOBOD had aimed to purchase 850,000 tonnes of cocoa this year but has fallen short, unable to reach even 700,000 tonnes due to the influence of illegal mining and smuggling.