Coconut theft on the rise in WR – Reg. Minister laments
The Western Regional Minister and Chairman of the Western Regional Security Council (REGSEC), MrKwabenaOkyereDarko-Mensah,has directed the Nzema East, Jomoro and EllembelleAssemblies to take immediate steps to check the theft of coconut on farms in the Nzema corridors.
He noted that, the stealing of coconut by some unscrupulous persons, was an affront to programmes to restore and promote an industry that has huge potentials to address the economic and social needs of the people especially farmers and investors in the region.
Mr Darko-Mensah, gave the directive following complaints by the Jomoro Coconut Hub about thefts of coconuts on their farms.
The complaint was lodged at the launch of the 2nd International Coconut Festival Ghana themed ‘Repositioning Ghana’s coconut sector for accelerated industrilisation agenda” at Alabokazo in the Ellembelle District last Friday.
Mr Darko-Mensah added “REGSEC directs all the three municipal and district assemblies in Nzema East, Jomoro and Ellembelle to mount road barriers to check thetransportation of coconut from these areas.The stealing of coconut must stop on our farms, we will not allow that. Anyone transporting coconut from these areas, must show receipts of where is coming from.”
He indicated that the region had distributed about five millioncoconut seedlings to yield about $100 per tree, saying that “farmers need the hybrid seedlings which were disease – resilient.”
Plans to add value to coconut, Mr Darko-Mensah said, were ongoing andhoped that, with the support of Ghana Tree Crop Authority, the industry would be revived with the establishment of factories, stressing “we will do it with coconut and create jobs and market for the farmers.”
The Regional Minister told the participants that happily, the Senior High Schools had also adopted the cultivation of coconut.
‘With Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) the African Coconut Group and Youth in coconut value chain, we believed we will tell a success storywith coconut.”
In an interview with the Chairman of the Jomoro Coconut Hub,Francis Aliefe, he recalled that, the theft of coconut which took place mostly in the nights,reached itheight about two years ago, and mentioned Anochie,Takenta, Nawule, Ndusuazo, Ellenda,Eguazo and Half Assini as area noted for such crime.
He told The Spectator that initially, the thieves stole the copra on farms but, now climbed thetrees to harvestbunches of fresh coconut.
According to him reports had been made to the District Police Command, but, the situation remained the same.
Commending the Regional Minister for the directive, he, however, suggested a multi- stakeholder approachcomprising the chiefs, police, the Jomoro Municipal Assembly and the judiciary, for permanent solution to the matter.
He stated for example that, anytime culprits were taken to court, they were made to sign a bond of good behaviour and let -off the hook, but regretted that “the situation continues and is alarming.”
Mr Aliefe continued “We are suffering; our incomes and future investment are going to criminals who have not shed any sweat. We have suffered for nothing. Coconut creates jobs for every household, indeed, it’s themainstay of the economy inthe Nzema enclave.
“We need more investments but how do we move forward with these criminal activities.The good newsis that investors are prepared to come but we need to protectthe coconut plantations, maintain supply of the raw material base, to make the industry attractive and for our incomes and economy to grow and flourish.”
From Clement Adzei Boye, Alabokazo