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Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has joined a lawsuit initiated by some cocoa farmers from Asuom, in the Kwaebibirem Municipality of the Eastern Region, against a mining company they accuse of destroying farms in their area.
The farmers petitioned COCOBOD for support to stop the operations of AC Zenon, which they say has taken over large portions of land in their community and encroached on their farms, causing significant destruction.
Maxwell Kwadwo Owusu (47), Isaac Mante (39), Yaw Amponsah (61), and Emmanuel Ganyo (47), who are executives of the Asuom-Adansi Cocoa Cooperative, said they are acting as witnesses on behalf of the over 300 affected members of the association and in the interest of the community. They seek the court to promptly stop the expansion of AC Zenon’s operations and claim compensation for the destruction of their farms.
At a media briefing to outline COCOBOD's interest in the case, Dr. Michael Kwarteng, who is in charge of COCOBOD’s Anti-Galamsey Desk, said the case highlights the ongoing conflict between mining and cocoa farming in Ghana.
He stated that COCOBOD joined the lawsuit to support the farmers' efforts to protect their livelihoods and ensure environmental sustainability. He noted that unregulated mining causes significant damage to the environment and is detrimental to the production of good-quality cocoa.
Dr. Kwarteng bemoaned that the community has already lost over 4.5 acres of land, equivalent to more than 2000 cocoa trees. He said the mining company claims to have been given a concession to mine a 32-kilometre square area which will affect even more cocoa farms.
He revealed that discussions among the Board, Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and Forestry Commission have led to a consensus for the enactment of laws to prevent mining companies from destroying cocoa farms. He however stressed the need for strict enforcement to protect the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and preserve their farmland.
He further noted that discussions are also ongoing for COCOBOD to be part of the mining licencing process to carry out inspections on prospective mining sites to certify that cocoa farms will not be affected.
“COCOBOD has also stepped up its effort to sensitize farmers on Galamsey and its negative effects, to prevent them from being tempted to give their farmlands to illegal miners. He believes this effort is yielding positive results”, he hinted.
Maxwell Kwadwo Owusu, who is the Secretary of the Asuom-Adansi Cocoa Cooperative, expressed gratitude to COCOBOD for taking up the issue but called for more help from regulatory agencies within the mining sector to curb the menace which is currently threatening cocoa production in the country.
Meanwhile, the case will be heard at the Asamankese Circuit Court in the Eastern Region on June 13, 2023.
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