Some aggrieved cocoa farmers in the northern part of the Western Region have threatened to embark on a demonstration if the government continues its move to cut down their cocoa trees.
According to the farmers, at a meeting held at Pillar 24, a cocoa growing community in the Bia West District with representatives from Ghana Cocoa Board they were made aware that there wouldn’t be any proper compensation for affected cocoa farmers.
The farmers argued that they secured loans for all their faming projects, which had not been settled, and questioned if government wanted them to be arrested by the banks.
They quizzed: “We want to ask government if it wants us to go out and beg for money to make for the period of replanting of the news seedlings. Because it will take more than six years before we can harvest from the new trees?”
The leader of the aggrieved farmers, Mr. Stephen Gyedu in an interview with Today yesterday noted that they disagreed with the policy since it would bring more harm to them than perceived.
“This will bring severe hardship and poverty on us. We rather prefer the old cocoa trees than to cut them down for new ones.
“Although we need support from the government to prevent the disease from affecting cocoa tress, we think that cutting and replanting the new ones are not the ultimate solution to fight against the diseases,” he said.
To this end, Mr. Gyedu who is a resident of Yawmatwa, called on government to rescind its decision to cut down cocoa trees considering this year as a bumper cocoa season.
Sixty eight (68) per cent out of 315,886.06 hectares of cocoa trees infested with diseases nationwide are in the Western North area, while 13 per cent are in the Eastern Region hence, the commencement of the exercise in the two areas.
Almost half of the entire cocoa population in the western north (42 per cent) is affected by diseases, while 25 per cent of the cocoa populations in the Eastern Region are also in the same situation.
However, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo has allayed the fears of the farmers.
According to him, government will compensate them.
He indicated that COCOBOD had instituted a package to pay compensation to the affected farmers.
He said the affected farmers would be given initial compensation during the tree-cutting exercise and additional compensation during the replanting in the affected areas.
“Additionally, COCOBOD will outsource the replanting exercise to service providers who will plant economic trees and plantain suckers, as well as cocoa seedlings”, he said.
According to him, government had agreed to pay GH¢552 per hectare to the farmers as initial compensation and pay GH¢1,290 per hectare during the replanting exercise.
He said a loan had been acquired from the World Bank and the African Development Bank to cater for the compensation of the farmers.
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU