The Ghana Civil Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP) has taken a swipe at the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, a false claim he made in Zurich, Switzerland when addressing the General Assembly of group of chocolate manufacturers which sought to shift the blame of cocoa driven deforestation to timber loggers.
The GCCP alleged that the CEO of COCOBOD during a meeting with the group of cocoa manufacturers in Zurich said he does not subscribe to the thinking that cocoa farming causes deforestation, but rather “loggers working for lumbering companies who sell the timber to Europe and Americans are the ones who enter those forest reserves and subdue it.”
Addressing the media at a Press Conference in Accra on Thursday to debunk Mr. Aiddos claim, the Co-Convener of GCCP, Mr. Obed Owusu Addai described the statement by the COCOBOD CEO as flawed.
He asserted that cocoa is a leading driver of deforestation in the country, and accused COCOBOD of always falling short in admitting that cocoa is a major cause of forest loss in Ghana.
Mr. Owusu Addai cited a recent report by the Global Forest Watch and other documents to back his earlier assertion that cocoa farming causes deforestation. The Global Forest Watch report indicates that between 2017 and 2018, Ghana’s rate of deforestation rose by 60 percent the highest in the world. That same report singled out agricultural expansion in the middle and southern belt of Ghana, and mining in the north as a leading cause of forest loss.
According to him, the statement made by the COCOBOD CEO degrades Ghana’s commitment to fighting deforestation, especially from the cocoa landscape.
The Co-Convener of GCCP, however, called on the COCOBOD CEO to clarify his position on the cocoa-driven deforestation.
“We, therefore, call on the COCOBOD and its CEO to clarify their position on cocoa-driven deforestation, because this current position is not supported by the facts on the ground and by their own government statistics and research,” he noted.
What is deforestation and why COCOBOD CEO’s claim is uninformed
According to the coalition, the fundamental problem with COCOBOD CEO’s argument stems from his confusion between forest degradation and deforestation. “There is a difference between the two and the simplest differentiation is, ‘when agriculture, mining, urban development or other land uses replace forest, the land is said to have experienced deforestation. By contrast, degradation is a gradual process through which a forests biomass declines its species composition changes or its soil quality declines. Degradation often precedes deforestation’.
“For the past few years COCOBOD has been cultivating an internal discourse about deforestation and the role that cocoa plays, it has used the term ‘deforestation’ very loosely to mean loss of tree cover in areas that initially had trees.
COCOBOD, as echoed by its CEO also hold the position that replacing degraded forest lands with cocoa trees equates to reforesting that degraded forest lands. We unequivocally disagree with this narrow view of forest restoration. There is a difference between introducing trees into cocoa farmlands and introducing cocoa into forestlands, the latter is what the CEO is advocating. This we say is unacceptable” He stated.
According to the coalition, COCOBOD CEO’s comment at the General Assembly of group of chocolate manufacturers’ damages Ghana’s image and reputation to international partners which he said raises questions whether our leaders really know what they are about.
Even though we are aware, cocoa is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy, government agencies in charge of the sector should be mindful that if we continue the business as usual scenario, and do things to deforest our forest, there will be no good rainfall as well as arable lands to plant cocoa in the next few decades.
The Ghana Civil-society Cocoa Platform is an independent campaign and advocacy platform for civil society actors in the cocoa sector which comprises of Civil Society Organization, NGOs, Community-based Organizations, Farmer-based Organizations, Farmer Associations, Media and interested individuals.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
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