Small Miners, Aging Farmers threaten Ghana’s Cocoa Future

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Ghana’s cocoa regulator, COCOBOD is worried that the activities of artisanal miners (galamseyers) and the aging of farmers could have adverse consequences on the country’s cocoa industry.

CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, delivering a keynote address on the theme: ‘Accelerating sustainability through technology and innovation’, at the 2017 WCF Partnership Meetings in Washington, said, “there is a vibrant land market patronised by the illegal artisanal miners (popularly called galamsey operators in Ghana) at Sefwi Boako which is known for its sedimentary gold ore deposits.”

According to him, “poor farmers are obviously are found at the crossroad of selling his landed property to ever cash-ready galamsey operators or holding onto his 5ha cocoa farmland and continue to wallow in poverty.”

Mr Boahen Aidoo added: “The horrible ravage that galamsey has caused Ghana’s forests, environment, and water resources in the past ten or so years is a narrative that must not be entertained. The challenge then is how we incentivise the farmer to raise his family’s income from cocoa cultivation without compromising his children’s ability to utilise the same land for their future benefit.

This would require remunerative prices and productivity enhancing initiatives at a rate that maintains a desirable demand-supply balance.”

The Akufo-Addo government, he said, is tackling this challenge head-on. The aging population of cocoa farmers and the onslaught of galamsey has put the future of Ghana’s cocoa industry at risk.

These problems explain why COCOBOD has resorted to efficiency and productivity-enhancing interventions.

“The first that quickly comes to mind is hand pollination. Results from the pilot programme across the country have been satisfactory and generated a lot of enthusiasm amongst the cocoa farmers. We are going to scale up the programme this 2017/18 crop year. In addition, we have expanded cocoa extension coverage. We have opened discussions with our partners to expand the use of ICT in cocoa extension.
The next is irrigation. Climate change mitigation is a priority in the productivity enhancement agenda. There are two cocoa flowering seasons in Ghana. One coincides with the rainy season, the other occurs during the dry (harmattan) period. Because of lack of soil moisture during the harmattan, most of the flowers drop. This accounts for what is called the light crop and the smaller sizes of the beans. To optimise farm yield and improve upon bean sizes, we have started piloting small-scale irrigation. This will also be scaled up next year,” Mr. Aidoo added.

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