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Illegal Miners Blamed for Ghana’s Dwindling Cocoa Production2 min read

Illegal Miners Blamed for Ghana’s Dwindling Cocoa Production<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">2</span> min read</span>

Cocoa farmers in Segyimase, Abuakwa South Municipality, and Osino, Fanteakwa South District of the Eastern Region, point to rampant illegal mining, or ‘galamsey’, as a significant cause of dwindling cocoa production.

Farmers in these areas cite illegal miners forcibly taking over cocoa plantations as a key factor contributing to the decline in cocoa output nationwide. Many farmers, driven by poverty and lack of government support, have been compelled to sell their cocoa farms to these illegal operators.

Eno Lawrencia Akufo shared her distress over losing her cocoa plantation when it was sold without her knowledge while she was away seeking medical treatment in the regional capital.

Opanyin Emmanuel Takyi, an opinion leader and former assemblyman for Segyimase, highlighted how illegal mining has impacted 18 acres of cocoa farms across three locations.

Ghana’s cocoa production for the 2023/24 season is projected to fall nearly 40% short of the 820,000 metric tonne target, coinciding with global cocoa prices reaching US$10,000 per tonne this year. In the first four months of 2024, Ghana’s trade balance narrowed due to decreased cocoa exports, reflecting a year-on-year drop in cocoa output by approximately 50%.

The situation is similarly dire in Osino, where 40% to 50% of cocoa plantations have been sold to illegal miners, resulting in a loss of 70% of cocoa farms to mining activities.

During a recent visit to an area along the Accra-Kumasi Highway where cocoa plantations once thrived, reporters observed ongoing illegal mining operations, including dangerously deep pits left uncovered near power lines and infrastructure.

In 2022, the Ghana National Small Scale Miners Association called for the arrest of individuals engaged in mining near the highway. However, despite these efforts, the situation has deteriorated, with illegal miners now extensively mining the area, even under electricity poles, endangering infrastructure integrity.

The plight of cocoa farmers underscores the urgent need for effective measures to curb illegal mining activities and protect Ghana’s vital cocoa industry from further decline.