The 2018 National Best Tree Crop Farmer, Solomon Kusi, together with the Kontihene of Japekrom and Acting President of the Traditional Council in the Brong Ahafo Region, Nana Amoabeng Asare, and a former assembly member of Elubo West in the Jomoro Municipal Assembly of the Western Region, David Andoh, have championed the construction of a six-kilometer road with their personal resources.
The six-kilometer, entirely new road, stretches from Gyegyekrom – off the Takoradi-Elubo highway – through Nanakrom and close to the River Tano.
Solomon Kusi narrated to 3news.com that in 2012, he bought a farmland at Nanakrom to start a cocoa plantation without knowing that there was no road to the community.
“I bought the land without personally visiting Nanakrom. I bought it because I heard it was very good for cocoa farming. On my first trip to Nanakrom, I had to walk over 3 kilometers from Gyegyekrom. I was surprised to see that despite the large cocoa farms in the community, the only way into it was by foot.”
He continued: “I remember in one of my meetings with elders of the community they told me that cocoa farmers have to hire people to carry their cocoa and trek the three-kilometer journey. That was very laborious, expensive and dangerous. Sometimes it takes days before, for example 100 bags of cocoa could reach Gyegyekrom which is close to the highway. In some instance if they are not lucky and it rains the cocoa sacks get soaked as they don’t have any protective cover as they carry them on their head. Those who live beyond Nanakrom and close to the River Tano cross the river to Elubo. They told me that occasionally, Ivorian authorities will cease their cocoa. These lamentations were worrisome particularly because I was also a cocoa farmer and could feel their frustration.”
According to him, together with Nana Amoabeng Asare, the Kontihene of Japekrom, and the former Assembly member for Elubo West, David Andoh, and with the acceptance of the residents of Nanakrom, they decided to construct a new road out of the footpath from the community to Gyegyekrom.
He narrated how they wrote several letters to the Jomoro Municipal Assembly in 2012 for help but that did not come.
“And because we could not wait any longer, we decided to take up the challenge of constructing an entirely new road by ourselves. So, we started to levy the cocoa farmers, something they agreed to, wholeheartedly. Thankfully, I was recognized as the best cocoa farmer in the whole of Ghana in 2018 and that further emboldened me to champion the construction of the road to be able to help give Ghana more cocoa. So, myself, Nana Asare and David Andoh took a greater part of the cost while adding what we were making from the levy. We hired machines and bought fuel and the work began in October last year. It was tough but we were resolute and soldiered on knowing that the benefits are enormous.”
He stated that since then they have been able to construct three-and-a-half kilometers of the road from Nanakrom to Gyegyekrom and two-and-a-half kilometers from Nanakrom to the River Tano.
“We are left with two kilometers before we can actually get to the River Tano by car. We cannot continue now as we are financially handicapped. But the joy is now, KIA trucks can come all the way to Nanakrom and further to pick hundreds of cocoa bags at a go, something the farmers took days to do. The time cocoa bags will reach the depots have also improved drastically. Another problem we have also solved is that school children no longer have to walk long distances as they are able to get a car to school.”
Kontihene of Japekrom Nana Amoabeng Asare explained that during the construction they had to cut a hill to fill one spot on the road because they did not have the financial means to construct big culverts.
“Our fear is that when it rains heavily that spot may cave in and wash away the earth. When that happens, it will mean all our efforts have been wasted. So, we are appealing to COCOBOD and Ghana Gas to come to our aid.
“This is a cocoa road and so it should be given attention. Currently, we are preparing to meet Ghana Gas to explain to them the need for the road to receive further improvement because it is dusty. We couldn’t afford to tar it.”
He indicated that during the 2019 edition of the Farmer’s Day celebration, the Member of Parliament for Jomoro Constituency, Paul Essien, came to inspect the road and “we are hopeful that he will lobby for it to be given the needed attention”.
Nana Amoabeng Asare said the assembly is yet to visit the road.
Nanakrom has a population of about 5,000. Over 3,000 of them are cocoa farmers.
The community produces about 15,000 bags of cocoa per season. The figure excludes the thousands of bags of cocoa other adjoining small communities also produce.
Some of the community members also cultivate cassava, maize, plantain and coconut.
A former assembly member of Elubo West, David Andoh, recalled that several bags of cocoa had to be left to rot because of how expensive and laborious it was carting them to the highway.
“Now that the road has been constructed cocoa farmers in Nanakrom and adjoining communities will be energized to produce more. All what we are pleading is that government should give us our fair share of the national cake so we can continue to help feed mother Ghana.”
By Eric Yaw Adjei|3news.com|Ghana