Farmers Convert Cocoa Farms into Rubber Plantation


Some farmers in the leading cocoa growing region in Ghana, Amenfi West, Amenfi Central and Amenfi East District of the Western Region are cutting down their cocoa farms for rubber plantations.

According to these farmers, rubber plantations are more lucrative than the cocoa farms and also working on the cocoa farm is nerve-wrecking and more difficult than the rubber plantation.

This is certainly not good for the sector as government’s determination to increase Ghana’s cocoa to a million metric tons annually will not be cast in stone. It’s however unfair that the two leading cocoa producing countries that accounts for over 60percent of the world cocoa output, in 2015 between them earned only 5.7 to 8 billion dollars from a chocolate market worth over 100 billion dollars. Cocoa farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast earns just 5% to 6% of that value, which clearly, is highly demotivating for farmers, according to Friends of the Earth (FoE-Ghana).

FoE-Ghana is asking Government for a fair cocoa price for their hard work indicating that, faced with the challenges of farmers converting their cocoa farms to rubber plantations, cocoa farm expansion into forest reserves and encouraging the Ghanaian youth to go into cocoa farming, is an enough reasons for Government to push at the international platform for a fair and sustainable financial package for our farmers.

Stop-Deforestation Free Cocoa
But what FoE-Ghana is more serious about is the gradual depletion of the vegetation as a result of the rampant cutting down of tress for cocoa farms.

Cocoa is the most important cash crop to both the Ghanaian economy and as the main source of livelihood for over a million farmers. Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa, and exports about 800,000 metric tons accounting for over 9% of the country’s GPD.

However, not all news about this cherished crop is pleasing to the ear and sight.

The Project Coordinator at FoE-Ghana, Dennis Acquah said between 2000 and 2010, Ghana lost a total of about 820,000 hectares of her forest area at a rate of 1.4% per annum and this jumped to a staggering 6% in 2011.

He added that even now deforestation is around 2% or 132,000 hectare per annum, one of the highest rates in the world after Togo and Nigeria.

According to him, much of this deforestation is due to the cherished cocoa crop which is estimated that cocoa farming alone accounts for about 50% of all forest lost by agriculture in Ghana’s high forest zone.

Ghana to lose Forest in Next 10 to 20years
“Forest experts have warned that Ghana’s natural forest risks being depleted in the next 10 to 20 years,” Mr Dennis Acquah stated.

In response to these threats and after intense pressure from civil society organisations, the Government of Ghana and Cote d’ivoire in November 2017, agreed to a framework for action by committing to ending deforestation in their cocoa supply chain, he intimated.

Mr Acquah stressed that the framework for action includes promoting forest protection and restoration, respecting cocoa farmer’s rights and promoting sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers.

Friends of the Earth-Ghana, together with other NGOs both international and local has been supporting the ‘’Chocolate Campaign’’ led by Mighty Earth, a global campaign organisation working to protect the environment. The campaign aims to achieve Deforestation-Free Cocoa across the world.

National Implementation Plan on Cocoa and Forest Initiatives

Mr Dennis Acquah said while Ghana can be commended for committing to ending deforestation in cocoa farming, there is the need to speed up with the National Implementation Plan on the Cocoa and Forest Initiative as reserve encroachment by cocoa farmers continues unabated.

According to him, the farmers are motivated by the government’s desire to increase cocoa output to a million metric tons annually as well as the political interference in law enforcement, to clear forest lands for farming.

“So farmers are moving fast to establish new farms before the implementation plan is imposed. If the cocoa sector continues with business as usual the forest will disappear at an alarming rate. Actual works on the ground are urgently needed to reverse the declining trend in the country’s forest resources,” Mr Acquah posited.

He urges Government to take a tough stance on cocoa led deforestation by equipping the Forestry Commission to increase their forest monitoring activities to prevent reserve encroachment before it happens.

There is the need for collaboration between the Forestry Commission and Cocobod to sensitize farmers on the effects of deforestation and also work to enforce the laws to prevent further reserve encroachment. Farmers also need support with sustainable farming techniques so they can maintain and increase their harvest without the need to cut more forest.

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