Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have agreed to form a joint committee to find lasting solutions to repeated security challenges that confront cocoa farmers along the southern parts of their shared border.
The agreement was reached last Wednesday when Ghanaian officials hosted their Ivorian counterparts in a meeting at Half Assini in the Western Region to discuss the issue.
It is expected to help bring an end to repeated complaints by Ghanaian cocoa farmers that they are often accosted by irregular Ivorian para-military personnel when ferrying their harvests inland across the Tano River.
The farmers have reportedly been constant victims to the activities of the irregular Ivorian forces, who supposedly extort money from the farmers or seize their cocoa beans.
The delegation from Ghana, led by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, included officials from the board; the former Minister of the Western Region, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah; members of the Regional Security Council, and border security agents.
On the other hand, the delegation from Cote d’Ivoire comprised the Deputy Director-General of Le Conseil Du Café-Cacao (CCC), Dr Koffi N'goran; their National Land Forces General; the country's Regional Minister for Agriculture, and other members of various security agencies.
It was agreed that the joint committee would, among other things, work with all stakeholders on both sides of the border to fashion out a lasting solution to the problem which had reportedly been a major concern for cocoa farmers in the area for decades.
Ending the trauma
Mr Aidoo, said the expected solution would help to end the decades of trauma that farmers had been subjected to.
"This is not a new problem, but it has been escalating of late, and for us in Ghana, we see it as a national security issue. So, the National Security Minister and the President have been made aware, and for the first time, major steps are being taken to stop the illegal activities and give the farmers peace," Mr Aidoo said.
He added that the team from Cote d’Ivoire admitted to being aware of the activities of the para-military personnel, as many Ivorian farmers had also reported similar encounters with them.
He said the officials from Cote d’Ivoire gave the assurance that in the immediate term, they would conduct a thorough “clean-up of the border, and crackdown on the criminal elements".
"The Ghanaian Marine Police will also be conducting regular patrols of the Ghanaian side of the Tano River to check criminal activities," he added.