President John Dramani Mahama has taken a serious exception to the felling of cocoa trees for illegal gold mining and has assured that government would step up security activities to bring culprits to book.
President Mahama was speaking during the 2012 Cocoa Producers Alliance (COPAL) celebration at Agona Swedru in the Central Region on the theme: �Cocoa Consumption for healthier life and sustainable Economy.�
The COPAL celebration, which took place on Monday, brings together cocoa farmers, processors and buyers to exhibit their goods and educate the public on the importance and benefits of cocoa consumption among all ages.
Speaking about the effect of the galamsey operators on cocoa, President Mahama said "gold does not re-grow, it is not a renewable resource but when you grow cocoa every year you harvest cocoa. Cocoa is a resource that continues to produce for you for centuries. Often when this galamsey has been conducted, the land cannot be put back in a state where you can grow cocoa again"
He went on to admonish the chiefs and people of cocoa growing areas against the phenomenon saying: "please never, never, ever sacrifice cocoa production for extraction of gold!"
President Mahama said government, in partnership with the private sector, had re-introduced the cocoa extension system, which, he said, was critical to bridge the gap between research findings and the cocoa farmers in the catchment areas.
He said "government is not oblivious of the potential threat posed by the growth of the oil sector to cocoa and agriculture as a whole" adding that "government will never, never neglect the cocoa sector at the expense of the oil sector."
President Mahama revealed that government has completed the distribution of 20 million hybrid cocoa seedlings free of charge to hardworking cocoa farmers under the cocoa rehabilitation.
He said the provision of the hybrid seedlings would not only improve the national production level, but would also enhance the incomes of the cocoa farmers in the cocoa producing areas of the country.
He indicated that government had, within the 2011/2012 cocoa season, constructed 26 affordable houses for cocoa farmers who would be expected to repay with cocoa earnings.
He said the provision of accommodation was to enable cocoa farmers to acquire decent accommodation within a reasonable period of time in their various locations.
President Mahama said government had also funded and constructed the state of the art clinic at Debiso in the Western Region to provide first class services to the people around cocoa growing communities.
On the upcoming December polls, the president assured of his readiness to safeguard the livelihood of Ghanaians by making sure that the elections are free, fair, transparent and devoid of any violence.
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