The Chair of the Supreme Consultative Council (SCC) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Alhaji Idriss Alhassan, is calling for measures to check the destruction of

Addressing a forum organised by the COCOBOD at Dunkwa-On-Offfin in the Upper Denkyira East Municipality of the Central Region for Cocoa farmers, Mr. Alhassan said the cocoa sector could face a major setback if the menace by the illegal miners is not addressed.

Ghana is struggling to to meet its targeted cocoa production. The country imported 15,500 tons of cocoa beans from neighbouring Ivory Coast in the 2014/2015 crop season, according to the finance minister, Seth Terkper.

Ecobank predicted cocoa production in Ghana to fall to between 730,000 and 750,000 tonnes following an outbreak of fungal black pod disease last year.

Arable lands in Ghana are owned by chiefs and family heads, therefore the government has minimum say in how lands are used.

But Mr. Alhassan in his speech urged chiefs to refrain from selling out arable farm lands for mining activities.

In a similar event two days ago in the Brong Ahafo region, Mr. Alhassan said harsh weather accounted for the low cocoa production in the 2014/2015 season.

He said government provided the necessary inputs and logistics like free seedlings, fertilisers and insecticides to guarantee good yield in the cocoa industry but the rainfall delayed and the subsequent bush fires destroyed many cocoa farms in the cocoa growing areas.

The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and industry had forecast cocoa output in Ghana and Ivory Coast to decline sharply.

“We do not expect the mid-crop harvest to be as high as last year in Ivory Coast when it was 514,000 tonnes,” said Jean-Marc Anga, Executive Director of inter-governmental body ICCO, said. “In Ghana, it’s a similar situation.”