Farmers demand end to destruction of cocoa trees by Ghana Rubber Estate Ltd
Cocoa farmers in the Eastern Region are demanding an end to the destruction of cocoa trees to make way for rubber plantations.
|Source||Ghana|Myjoyonline.com | Joseph Opoku-Gakpo | Joy News|
|Keywords||Timber, cocoa, farmers, rubber|
At a media briefing held on destroyed cocoa farms at Asikasu Odumase in the Upper West Akim District, the farmers complained that over the last two years, more than 2000 acres of farms have been brought down by the Ghana Rubber Estate Limited (GREL).
Chairman of the Concerned Farmers Association Nana Oboadie told the media; “our worry is, when you watch around, almost 2000 acres of cocoa plantations have been destroyed.
"We have reported this severally to COCOBOD, the Office of President, Interior Ministry, IGP’s office, but it looks like nobody is listening to help deal with the problem.”
“If you look at the farmers here, their livelihoods have been destroyed,” he added.
According to the farmers, they leased the lands from landowners and traditional leaders but GREL also says it acquired the lands legally too.
They accuse GREL of imposing compensation packages on them which they have rejected. Nana Oboadie says the situation is causing untoward hardship for the hundreds of affected farmers.
“Most Ghanaian farmers engaged in the cocoa industry earn their livelihood from cocoa farming but its rather unfortunate mismanagement of leadership role is affecting the core value and goal of our cocoa plantation.
Since cocoa supports Ghana's economy more than any other crop, it would not be wise enough to cut down an existing economic crop to plant another economic plant,” he said.
“What is the rubber for? Do we eat rubber? Young people are indulging themselves in cocoa production and their cocoa is being destroyed and nobody is talking about it… We want the president to know that the cocoa farms are being destroyed forcefully, they are not giving them anything,” he added.
The latest destructions on the farms happened earlier this month. Cocoa Extension Agent Joyce Arku told the media: “I called the farmer, he was crying on the farm, he said the grader is on the land. His foodstuff, his poultry is gone. The following day, I came to witness it and I saw three graders on the field.”
“A whole lot of money is being taken away...They said we should involve youth in cocoa farming. They have done it. And the land is being taken. GREL, they force you to take a cheque. If you refuse, the cheque is also taken away. You won’t get anything at all. It is so sad,” she added.
One of the affected farmers who gave his name as Ababio told the media: “They have destroyed our cocoa farms. Because of this, they cannot go anywhere. I don’t have money to buy anything. So I am calling on the elders to come and help me.”
“We think the cocoa farming is our future. So we don’t like that money. They also come with veto power to destroy the farms. I didn’t agree but they are using their own power to destroy the farm,” he said.The Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) was established in 1967 as a joint venture company with Firestone Tyre Company of USA to develop rubber plantations.
GREL became wholly state-owned in 1980 when Firestone sold its shares in GREL to the Ghana Government. However, government entered into a financing agreement with the French government to revive the company in 1996, after which French management company, Societe Internationale d Plantation d’ Hevea (SIPH) became the major shareholder of the company.
The company has maintained its innocence on the accusation. According to GREL officials, they have acquired hundreds of thousands of hectares of land from traditional leaders in the areas to undertake large-scale rubber plantations and some of the cocoa trees happen to be cited on the land which would have to make way.
A recent Joy news Hotline Documentary PLASTIC CHOCOLATE discussed the impact these destructions are having on the community. Below is the link to the documentary.
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