Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have agreed to form a joint committee to find a lasting solution to security challenges faced by cocoa farmers along the southern parts of the shared border between the two countries.
Ghanaian cocoa farmers who farm across the Tano River are often accosted by irregular Ivorian para-military forces when they are ferrying their harvests inland.
Cocoa farmers report falling victim to the activities of these irregular Ivorian forces, who extort monies from them or seize their cocoa beans.
The agreement to form a joint committee was reached when Ghanaian officials hosted their Ivorian counterparts in a meeting at Half Assini in the Western Region.
The delegation from Ghana was led by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, and made up of officials from COCOBOD, Western Region Minister Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, members of the Regional Security Council and border security agents.
The Ivorian delegation was constituted by the Deputy Director-General of Le Conseil Du Café-Cacao (CCC), Dr Koffi N’goran, their National Land Forces General and other members of various security agencies and a Regional Minister for Agriculture.
The joint committee will be tasked to work with all stakeholders on both sides of the border to fashion an enduring solution to the problem which has been in the area for decades.
CEO for Ghana Cocoa Board Joseph Boahene Aidoo, in an interview, said the farmers have been traumatized for decades, hence the need for this urgent meeting with the Ivorian counterparts.
He added this is not a new problem but “it has been escalating of late and for us, in Ghana we see it as a national security issue. The National Security Minister and the President have been made aware and for the first-time major steps are being taken to stop the illegal activities and give the farmers peace”.
Deputy Director-General of Le Conseil Du Café-Cacao (CCC) for Ivory Coast Dr Koffi N’goran admitted that they have been made aware of the activities of the Para-military forces.
Many Ivorian farmers have also reported similar encounters with the forces.
He therefore gave the assurance that in the immediate term, they will conduct a thorough “clean-up” of the border and crack down on the criminal elements.
The 2020 National Best Farmer Solomon Kwadwo Kusi, speaking on behalf of the farmers, commended the timely intervention of the government as well as the various stakeholders from both countries, expressing belief that it will end their several years of trauma. Meanwhile, the Ghanaian Marine Police will also be conducting regular patrols of the Ghanaian side of the Tano River to check criminal activities.
By Benjamin William Peters|Connect FM|3news.com|Ghana