Cocoa farmers in the country have kicked against cutting down of cocoa trees for rubber plantation. The president of West Akyem Cooperative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union, Sampson Adu Essel, speaking on behalf of the farmers, said the decision to cut down some cocoa trees, to be replaced with rubber, is ill-conceived and should not be entertained.
Speaking at Asamankese during the 10th annual general meeting of union, he noted that cocoa had been the backbone of the country for several years, and should not be mistreated in the light appetite for quick money.
Some cocoa farmers in the West Akyem municipality have been selling their cocoa lands to rubber plantation companies in the area. Mr Essel said while they are not against rubber plantation, they believe it should not be done at the expense of cocoa.
Support against galamsey
He also declared the union’s support for the government’s fight against illegal mining, known locally as ‘galamsey’. He contended that galamsey had been one of the many issues that had hampered the growth of the cocoa industry.
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of West Akyem, Seth Oduro Boadu, assured the farmers that illegal miners who had been harassing them (cocoa farmers) would be dealt with when caught. He stated that it had come to the notice of the assembly that some of the galamsey operators go to the extent of using guns to harass the farmers stating that the assembly is putting measures in place to ensure their protection.
He added that the Akufo-Addo government is committed to protecting the cocoa sector and urged the cocoa farmers to continue to have faith in the government.
Meanwhile, West Akyem Cooperative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union has given vocational training to women in entrepreneurship in the area. This was done as part of the union’s corporate social responsibility.
The women were trained in soap making, shower gel and liquid soap preparation, bread baking among others. The beneficiaries were also giving start-up kits after the training to start their own businesses.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to the media expressed appreciation to the union of the good gesture.