Hundreds of tonnes of cocoa beans are stuck in a shed at Aboaso in the Juaboso District of the Western North Region because they have not been purchased.
Obviosuly livid local cocoa farmers have threatened to give up their farmlands to illegal miners or sell their produce to neighboring Ivory Coast, a situation that can undermine government’s targeted 1 million tonnes annual production, if nothing is done.
“I have not heard from the D.O. (District Officer) since November and these farmers are on me. They sometimes think I have diverted their monies, but they come to the shed and see their produce stuck in there,” a frustrated purchasing clerk laments.
Hundreds of hectares of lands are used for cocoa cultivation, making the community a major contributor to the production of the cash crop.
Ayesu, a local farmer and a purchasing clerk, says he is unable to finance his child’s education as a result of the current situation.
“I’m supposed to send my child to school, but he is still at home. This is very worrying.”
Twum Barimah, another farmer, wants answers.
“We demand an immediate reason why the government is delaying payment.”
Minister of Agriculture Dr Afriyie Akoto Owusu had told the Appointments Committee of Parliament during his vetting on February 19 2021 that farmers would get their pay on February 22, 2021.
This was after the Member of Parliament for Buem, Kofi Adams, had alleged Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) in the cocoa sector are carting cocoa from farmers without paying.
But the Agric Minister rebutted that arrangements had been made for farmers to be paid within 48 hours.
The story from cocoa farmers at Aboaso seems to present a contrary picture.
Member of Parliament for Juaboso Kwabena Mintah Akandoh alleges that the government might have diverted cocoa funds.
“$1.5 billion was agreed by Parliament to pay farmers in 2020. I think the government might have used the money to fund its political campaign, otherwise where is the money; why haven’t these farmers paid?” he queried.
He continued: “This is not the first time we are bringing this matter to the fore, if you remember when we were in session we raised issue of non-payment of cocoa in the cocoa growing areas. The unfortunate aspect that I recall vividly is that immediately after engaging the press, the Majority led by Hon. Afenyo Markin also engaged the same press and debunked this strongly that what we were saying was not the truth.”
Cocoa farmers at Aboaso have either threatened to release their lands for galamsey – illegal mining – or sell their produce to neighboring Ivory Coast.
By William Evans-Nkum|3news.com|Ghana