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Speed up implementation of cocoa and forest initiative – government urged

Mr Dennis Acquah, a Project Manager at the Friends of the Earth Ghana, has called on the government to fast track the execution of the National Implementation Plan on the Cocoa and Forest Initiative.

Mr Acquah said the implementation of the plan would assist in preventing continuous reserve encroachment by cocoa farmers.

He was speaking at a media briefing on the “Chocolate Campaign” led by Mighty Earth, a global campaign organisation working to protect the environment.

The campaign aims to achieve deforestation-free cocoa farming across the world.

Mr Acquah said cocoa farmers were clearing forests for farming to meet government’s desire to increase cocoa output to a million metric tons annually and were also clearing the forests because of political interference in law enforcement.

He said farmers were moving fast to establish new farms before the implementation plan was imposed adding that if the cocoa sector continues with business as usual the forest will disappear at an alarming rate.

He said: “Actual works on the ground are urgently needed to reverse the declining trend in the country’s forest resources.”

Mr Acquah urged government to take a tough stance on cocoa led deforestation by equipping the Forestry Commission to increase their forest monitoring activities to prevent reserve encroachment before it happens.

He said there was the need for collaboration between the Forestry Commission and COCOBOD to sensitise farmers on the effects of deforestation and also work to enforce the laws to prevent further reserve encroachment.

He said there was the need to support farmers with sustainable farming techniques so they can maintain and increase their harvest without the need to clear more forest adding that there was also the need for a fair cocoa price for farmers’ hard work.

“It is unfair that Ghana and Ivory Coast, the two leading cocoa producing countries, which accounts for over 60 per cent of the global cocoa output, in 2015 (between the two) earned only $5.7 to $8 billion from a chocolate market worth over 100 billion dollar,” Mr Acquah said, adding that Cocoa farmers in the two countries earned just five to six per cent of the global value.

On his part, Mr Obed Owusu-Addai, a Campaigner with Ecocare Ghana said governance within the cocoa sector had been a major problem over the years and therefore calls on politicians to allow technocrats to lead decision making in the sector.

He added that there was the need to sustain production of cocoa in the country through innovative ways adding that Brazil and Indonesia were likely to overtake Ghana if appropriate measures were not taken immediately.

Mr Glen Asomaning, the Operations Director of Nature and Development Foundation said when there is no forest; there would not be a thriving cocoa sector and there was therefore the need to protect forests across the country.

He said it was time the country commenced discussions on the challenges in the sector adding that politicians must allow the law to work.

Source: GNA

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