In order to sustain Ghana’s cocoa production, GARDJA and COCOBOD are calling for stringent measures to deal with the indiscriminate felling of cocoa trees in some parts of the country.
To avert the impact of this on the cocoa industry, COCOBOD and GARDJA have both written to Ghana’s parliament for the passing of legislation to restrain the destruction of cocoa trees for other cash crops production.
Last year, Gardja officially petitioned the speaker of parliament and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to ensure the passing of laws that would limit the pace at which our cocoa trees are been cut down for other cash crops by private investors.
On the other hand, COCOBOD has been appealing to chiefs to stop leasing out the cocoa farmlands to private developers, but this is not workable, as cocoa trees are subjected to irresponsible felling on daily basis.
COCOBOD has been supplying free cocoa seedlings to support the expansion of cocoa farms. Despite the numerous interventions, chiefs and landowners activities seem to thwart the effort of COCOBOD.
Speaking at a dialogue session with GARDJA and COCOBOD officials in Accra last Thursday, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Ahia Clottey, Ag. Executive Director of Seed Production Unit of COCOBOD, admitted this as a challenging venture for the cocoa industry and called for a holistic approach to end this canker bedeviling the country.
According to him, COCOBOD has initiated some talks with bodies responsible for this issue in finding a lasting solution to it.
Dr Clottey also revealed that the Cocoa sector strategic plan document wants the country to be zoned into areas where we should plant cocoa, cashew and palm trees, and believes this could help limit the pace at which cocoa farmers and the country as a whole are losing the essential trees.
More than 4,000 acres of cocoa farms have been destroyed in the Eastern Region alone, according to estimated figures from farmers in communities such as Asin the Ayensuah North District, as well as Asikasu and Akim Breman in the Upper West Akim District. Hundreds of farmers have been left jobless as a result.
GARDJA has also observed that, In this country, cocoa farmers are required by law to sell the commodity to the government only, through licensed buying companies, registered by COCOBOD.
It is illegal for individual farmers to export cocoa because the government deems it a key commodity that is helping sustain the economy.
Government is so protective of the cocoa pod. So, why should we treat the tree that bears the pod with such carelessness to the extent that anyone can get up and go and cut down the trees without sanction? This should not be happening in any serious country.
GARDJA believes the passing of legislation is the way forward now. According to GARDJA, legislation must expeditiously be passed to limit the authority of landowners and chiefs to forcibly take over cocoa farms for weird reasons.