Abosso Gold Fields Limited, (Damang Mine) through Gold Fields Ghana Foundation has presented 120 bags of fertilizers to new farmers under the Cocoa Input Support Programme at Damang in the Prestea Huni-Valley District of the Western Region.
In the year 2017, government of Ghana changed its policy towards fertilizer support to cocoa farmers and in place of distributing fertilizers free of charge to farmers, the input was rather made available at subsidized prices.
To support farmers increased their yields, Gold Fields Ghana Foundation, (Damang Mine) in 2018, took a decision to come to the aid of farmers who could not afford even the subsidized fertilizers. The first batch of 120 farmers from the nine host communities of the mine were each supplied with two acres worth of fertilizers annually.
Michael Van der Merwe, General Manager of Gold Fields Ghana Limited Damang Mine at the presentation ceremony explained that in 2020, after three consecutive years of support, an assessment of the impact of the programme was undertaken.
“This turned up very interesting results; all farmers recorded an increase in their yield annually, an average acre of cocoa farm, prior to the intervention of Gold Fields Ghana Foundation yielded between 10 to 12 bags of cocoa beans annually,” he said.
He pointed out that after three years of constant application of fertilizers, the same acres are given to the farmers, more than 16 bags which is an increase of more than 33% and on average, the beneficiary reported a 7% increase in their annual income.
This year, he said the first batch of farmers are exiting the programme. It is believed that the increase in the income of these beneficiaries has better positioned them to afford the government subsidized fertilizers going forward. According to him, their exit will make room for a new batch of 120 farmers to be enrolled in 2021 for the next three years. To date, he added that 480 farmers with a combine farm size of 960 acres have enjoyed support from the Foundation under this programme.
The General Manager pointed out that mining is often accused of displacing agriculture in a lot of areas. However, when done responsibly, mining does not only coexist with farming, but it can serve as a catalyst to boost agricultural production and Gold Fields Ghana Foundation is showing the way in this area.
“The leaders of the Damang Mine Consultative Farmers Association, under the chairmanship of Nana Boakye made a passionate appeal to the Foundation to consider the supply of insecticides and fungicides as part of the programme, this appeal has been accepted,” he pointed out.
Today, he said each of the 360 farmers presently under the programme will receive two acres’ worth of these other agrochemicals in addition to the government approved fertilizers.
Gold Fields, he said, is also excited that almost a quarter of the beneficiaries of this programme are women. This is in line with our commitment to ensuring women’s participation in all Gold Fields related activities. “We can certainly not do everything the communities would need, but we pledge to do our best in an honest and transparent manner,” he said.
Nana Boakye, Prestea -Huni Valley Chief Farmer in the Prestea Huni-Valley Municipality noted that increased supports combined with the determination of cocoa farmers can help Ghana attain the one million metric tons of cocoa target per year.
Therefore, he advocated for a strong collaboration among stakeholders including the government, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Ghana Cocoa Board, corporate entities and farmers to attain this laudable idea. “We can all work towards the dream of attaining the one million metric tons of cocoa production and help Ghana’s cocoa economy move forward. What is key is that we reduce the conflicts in our mining communities and forge ahead with a common goal,” he added.
He applauded the Damang Mine for their collaboration with stakeholders towards increasing cocoa production, improving farmers’ welfare and their incomes as well as impacting positively on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nana Boakye appealed to COCOBOD to ensure the prompt supply of cocoa seedlings to replace crops affected by the swollen shoot disease.