The Ghana Civil Society Actors Cocoa Platform (GCCP) has taken an exception to remarks by the COCOBOD CEO, Joseph Boahen Aidoo about cocoa farmers not being the drivers of deforestation in the country.
The group has called on the Mr. Boahen Aidoo to clarify his position on the statement he made while addressing some European chocolate processing companies and international civil society groups campaigning for the protection of forests in Switzerland.
It would be recalled that, the CEO of COCOBOD, Mr. Boahen Aidoo while addressing the General Assembly for Swiss chocolate producers in Zurich emphasized that “though cocoa have been planted on lands in Ghana which in the past were forests, the activities of lumbering companies reduced the forest before cocoa farmers converting the depleted vegetation into cocoa farms”.
Thus, “it is not cocoa farmers who cause deforestation, but now the general idea is that cocoa is causing deforestation. I beg to differ”.
But this assertion has been flawed by the GCCP who claim that, even though the activities of loggers deplete the soil, loggers hardly convert the lands for a different purpose after lumbering, which in effect, leaves the soil to recuperate.
Addressing the media on Thursday, May 16 2019, Co-convener of GCCP, Obed Owusu Addai explained that, “...timber loggers harvest trees from forest reserves and deplete the forest of trees which will not allow the forest to perform its functions effectively (this is forest degradation); but the timber loggers do not convert the forestland to other land use (this is deforestation). Cocoa farmers do that...If logged areas are left for some number of years they will recuperate and regenerate”.
While touching on the impact of the COCOBOD CEO’s comments on Ghana’s international image, Mr. Owusu Addai noted that, “...For the CEO of COCOBOD which is a major partner in most of the interventions aimed at reducing deforestation especially from cocoa landscapes to openly re-litigate the fundamental of these programmes, raises issues about their commitments to them. It also damages Ghana’s image and reputation to international partners...”
Meanwhile, deforestation has been a major concern of the international community and cocoa farming has often been attacked as a cause.
Some European companies have in the past threatened to boycott cocoa produced in Ghana because they have been planted in reserved forest areas.