The Chief Executive Officer of Cocoa Board (Cocobod), Joseph Boahen Aidoo

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Joseph Boahene Aidoo, has highlighted that farmers are increasingly opposing galamsey [illegal mining] because they see a promising future in cocoa farming.

He noted that farmers have taken a stance to protect their lands from miners to sustain their cocoa plantations.

In an interview with Joy News, Mr Boahene explained that the rising interest in cocoa farming is due to the increase in international cocoa prices. According to him, the rise in prices directly benefits farmers, encouraging them to preserve their land for cocoa cultivation.

“In the Nzema areas, farmers are rising against galamsey because they can see the future in it.”

Mr Boahene pointed out that Ghana is facing significant losses in cocoa exports due to several issues including structural problems, climate change, and the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease, smuggling among others.

“Because even if you are doing rehabilitation, once you cut a number of trees, you are reducing production and then illegal mining, and then off late smuggling is also another factor. But what has really affected our production significantly this year can be attributed to what we call El Nino – a weather phenomenon of extreme heat weaves generated in the Pacific Ocean.
He further elaborated, “Last year [2023] we experienced excessive rainfall and cocoa does not like excessive water. When there is too much rain and the soil is waterlogged the root heads cannot extract nutrients.”

He stated that El Niño, much like galamsey, severely affects the soil’s suitability for cocoa planting, especially during periods of excessive rainfall, which is beyond human control.
He emphasised that cocoa does not thrive in extreme weather conditions. Once impacted by such natural conditions, there is little that can be done to mitigate the damage. This has significantly affected this year’s production and has also influenced the international price of cocoa.

“We are going to have one of the least production in recent times” he added.

The Ghana Cocobod CEO revealed a decrease in cocoa production in the first quarter of 2024 compared to last year, resulting in a fall in revenue by more than $500 million. According to him, some foreigners are buying cocoa beans from farmers and selling them on the black market.

“There are some Russians in Guinea and Togo and they want to buy cocoa spots, they have nothing to lose. They don’t buy chemicals for farmers, they don’t buy fertilizers for farmers so they have nothing to lose. So they can sell spots and sell at $10,000.

“It is not our farmers who are selling to them, we have nation wreckers, and they are selling to them,” he said on Wednesday.

He said though there have been some arrests, the practice if not permanently handled will have dire consequences for the sector in the future.