Cocoa farmers in the Western Region have cautioned the government to immediately increase the price of cocoa, or they will continue to sell their cocoa farms for galamsey activities.
The farmers said the current cocoa price is a disincentive to farming, and that the government’s withdrawal of free cocoa farm inputs has made it difficult for them to purchase adequate inputs for their farms. They said they are now reliant on major mining companies like Gold Fields Ghana to provide them with free farm inputs.
The Western Region is gradually losing its position as a major cocoa-producing region due to the intensification of illegal small-scale gold mining activities. The region’s new status as a hub for galamsey activities is threatening the growth of the cocoa industry, as many farmers find the cocoa business unattractive due to the low price of cocoa compared to selling their cocoa farms to galamsey operators.
Farmers from the Damang Cocoa District in the galamsey-endemic area of Prestea-Huni-Valley Municipality gathered in Damang to receive free fertilizers and pesticides from the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation. They told the media that the threat of galamsey to cocoa is due to the low price of cocoa and the government’s switch from free to subsidized cocoa farm input delivery to farmers.
Robert Siaw, the Sustainability Development Manager of Gold Fields Ghana Limited, said the Foundation’s support for cocoa farm inputs this year alone cost $20,000. He assured the farmers of the Foundation’s continued commitment to supporting the cocoa sector, due to its importance.
Stephen Fiifi Boafo, the Head of Public Affairs at COCOBOD, who was at the event to support the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation’s free distribution of cocoa farm inputs to the 240 farmers, agreed that galamsey and the low price of cocoa are threats to the cocoa industry. He hinted that there may be a change in the cocoa price in October.