Dr. John Baptist Jatoe, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness at the University of Ghana has urged the government to gather the political courage to fight illegal mining in the country.
According to him, the illegal mining activities in the country are very detrimental to ensuring a green recovery from the pandemic. A green recovery focuses on long-term policies and solutions that are designed to benefit both the people and the planet. He stated that mercury is one of the metals that are very difficult to get rid of once it gets into the soil. Dr. Jatoe explained that these metals damage the soil which makes it unproductive in the long term.
His comment came after the Deputy CEO of COCOBOD Dr. Agyeman Dwomoh revealed that the EU is threatening to impose restrictions on Ghana’s cocoa exports. According to him, this is a result of the deforestation that is being caused by illegal mining.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jatoe stated that the call from the EU is justified as long as the EU can provide scientific evidence to that effect.
“In terms of being justified, yes. If the EU has found any evidence of any metal that can be linked with the ‘galamsey’ operation, then it has a good reason to say that. So, they have a legitimate case”.
Cocoa as a major export earner
Moreover, he explained that as long as the EU buys cocoa from Ghana, it will be in our interest to act on their threat. He pointed out that the EU has done that on several occasions and so it can repeat it. Dr. Jatoe therefore, indicated that it should be a wake-up call for Ghana to address the influx of illegal mining in the country.
“That should be a wake-up call. If we haven’t realized the issue of the rapid expansion in illegal mining and the dangers that it poses to our cocoa, the EU has recognized it. As for the ‘galamsey’ fight, we are not making progress, that is the way I see it”.
Also, Dr. Jatoe stated that the Ghanaian economy depends so much on cocoa. As a result, “it will be a pity if we sit back and allow something like this to destroy the future of our cocoa”.
Greener approaches to mining
Nevertheless, he indicated that the fight against illegal mining does not mean a complete closure of mining activities. He explained that there are better ways of mining that small-scale miners can explore without having severe repercussions on the environment.
“But there are greener, more organized approaches they could use. They can exploit the minerals without causing the kind of contamination to our water bodies that we are seeing today”.
According to COCOBOD, Ghana exports 80% of its cocoa into the European Union market. Recent data from the Bank of Ghana show that cocoa earnings amounted to USD 657.1 million as of February 2021. This accounted for 26% of the total export value of USD 2542.6 million at the end of February 2021.
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I agree with Dr. Jatoe