The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and Côte d’Ivoire’s regulatory body have agreed to form a joint committee to find a lasting solution to security challenges faced by cocoa farmers along the southern parts of the shared border of the two countries.
Ghanaian cocoa farmers who farm across the Tano river are often attacked by irregular Ivorian Para-military forces when they are ferrying their harvest inland. Some cocoa farmers who fall victim to the activities of the irregular Ivorian forces have reported that these Ivorian Para-military forces extort the farmers or seize their cocoa beans.
The agreement to form a joint committee was reached when Ghanaian officials hosted their Ivorian counterparts in a recent meeting at Half Assini in the Western South Region. The delegation from Ghana was led by the Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Hon Joseph Boahen Aidoo and made up of officials from COCOBOD, the Western South Regional Minister, Hon. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, members of the Regional Security Council and border security agents.
The Ivorian delegation was constituted by the Deputy Director-General of Le Conseil Du Café-Cacao (CCC), Dr Koffi N’goran, their National Land Forces General and other members of various security agencies and a Regional Minister for Agriculture.
The joint committee will be tasked to work with all stakeholders on both sides of the border to fashion an enduring solution to the problem which has been in the area for decades. The farmers have been traumatised for decades, hence the need for this urgent meeting with the Ivorian counterparts.
Speaking on the issue, Hon Joseph Boahen Aidoo intimated that the Ivorians admitted to have been made aware of the activities of the Para-military forces. Many Ivorian farmers have also reported similar encounters with the forces. He added that the Ivorian officials gave the assurance that they will conduct a thorough “clean-up” of the border and crackdown on the criminal elements in the short term.
“This is not a new problem but it has been escalating of late and for us, in Ghana we see it as a national security issue. So, the National Security Minister and the President have been made aware and for the first-time major steps are being taken to stop the illegal activities and give the farmers peace.”
The Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) also revealed that the Ghanaian Marine Police will also be conducting regular patrols of the Ghanaian side of the Tano river to check criminal activities.
Protecting the well-being of farmers in cocoa communities is a critical link to their family food security and nutrition, education, and health and drives the long-term prospects for a future of the cocoa farmers. Thus, there is the need to protect their farms in order not to put farmers in the persisting challenges of poverty thereby hampering their livelihoods.
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