Farmers in some communities in the Ashanti region say they are being forced to sell off their cocoa farms to both registered and illegal miners as destruction of land and water resources there intensifies.
The farmers have little option because movement of heavy equipment to mining sites causes considerable damage to their crops before chiefs and landowners prevail on them to negotiate the sale.
Luv FM’s Erastus Asare Donkor reports that one acre of cocoa farm goes averagely for GHc2,500 as there are fears production could be seriously affected if the trend continues.
Water bodies including Owari in the Ashanti Akyem-North and Oda in the Amansie Central district, which are sources of drinking water to communities, are now badly polluted.
Forest vegetation is also giving way to deep pits, water logs, muddy pools as well as hips of sand scattered all over.
In areas like Korbro and Akutuase in the Amansie Central district, cocoa farms have become wasted lands.
“Farmers here have financial challenges and they also look at the location of farms to sell. They pay 25 million old cedis for an acre of cocoa farm but many of these miners do not pay, saying there are no deposits in the area.
Many of the farmers have been impoverished as a result. “All these are fueled by the chiefs”, a farmer complained.
The effects of illegal mining could be seen on the outskirt of the Obuasi airstrip – Manso-Akropomg, Manso-Nkwanta, Petrensa and Kremokrom.
In the Amansie Central district, there are reports over fifty licensed small-scale miners are operating in the area with little or no regulation to their activities.
The most devastating effects for these people in the communities are child casualties due to the presence of open pits.
“Two children drowned in these pits. They should have covered the pit but government taskforce drove them away and they have left the pits uncovered”, the famer noted.
Forest reserves in the Amansie Central district have also not been spared the destruction and the DCE, Emmanuel Dede Appiah accuses forestry officials and traditional authorities of complicity.
“Some of our forest officers are also not helping us. We have three forest reserves with a forest office at Bekwai and Obuasi. Barely three months ago that I assume office, no forest officer has even reported to us any of these activities.
“When you see a car fully loaded with lumber, that is where you will see a forest officer call you and direct you to allow the car to go because they have instructed the drivers to bring the lumber…if you go to their offices, you will not find them. So, these are serious things. We have three forest reserves; Abuakwa, Oda and Subima forest reserves but if you make a trip to these areas, you will see how mankind have destroyed the environment that we all find ourselves”.