Cocoa farmers sell farms to illegal miners

cocoa-treeSome cocoa farmers in the Upper Denkyira East District in the Central Region are selling their farmlands to illegal miners, popularly known as ‘Galamsey’ operators, as a way to make ‘quick’ money.

An acre is being bought by the illegal miners for about GH¢6,500.

The 2011 Best District Farmer, Mr Isaac Boamah, who made this known in an interview at Dunkwa-on-Offin, said once the illegal miners, mostly Chinese, discovered gold or any other mineral on a farm, they approached the owner and offered him or her the amount.

According to him, after the purchase of the land, the illegal miners then cut down all the cocoa trees and begin their mining activities.

He described the situation as unfortunate and said it was killing the cocoa industry and the future of the farmers involved.

Mr Boamah called on the Minerals Commission to, as a matter of urgency, check the licences of the miners.

He also urged farmers to desist from the practice, which he described as “greed”.

The Upper Denkyira East Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Peter Owusu-Ashia Jnr, confirmed the story and said raids were usually organised to drive away the galamsey operators.

He said the approved practice was for prospective miners to consult the Minerals Commission to find out if the lands they were interested in could be used for mining.

He explained that those who went through the right processes were made to pay, among other things, crops compensation and goodwill fees, as well as execute a development project for the community in which they operated as part of their corporate social responsibility.

According to Mr Owusu-Ashia, the assembly’s bye-laws provided that licensed miners display their documents and licences at their sites in order to distinguish them from the illegal ones in case of unannounced raids by the security agencies.

He said some of the illegal miners operated at night and called on the task force and other security agencies to embark on night patrols in order to arrest them.

He urged the Minerals Commission to check and control the number of miners who were given permits to operate in an area and advised farmers and chiefs in the area to desist from selling their lands to illegal miners.

Source: GNA

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