The Sea Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG) and the Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association of Ghana (VEPEAG), operating under the Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE), have petitioned the Minister of Interior and other Ministries and institutions to tackle the devastating impact of illegal sand winning activities on their farms.

According to the groups, for over fifteen years, farms in the Central, Eastern, and Greater Accra Regions have suffered from the destructive actions of illegal sand-winning gangs.

These gangs, often armed and violent, have terrorized farms, destroying crops, irrigation systems, and farm structures, leading to significant economic losses and threatening the sustainability of agricultural operations.

“Despite our repeated reports to local police stations and regional authorities, the situation remains dire. The perpetrators continue to operate with impunity,” said Solomon Benjamin, Chairman of SPEG.

The cited Bomarts Farms Ltd., a Ghanaian company established in 1985, specializing in the cultivation of pineapples, mangoes, and sweet potatoes, and processing dried fruits for export is being threatened by illegal sand winners.

 The groups said, the company reported illegal activities to multiple police stations, but the destructive activities by Samuel Atsu Forson of Summertide Company Ltd. have persisted, devastating 155 acres of land.

“Bomarts Farms has seen 15 years of investment uprooted, leaving the land unsuitable for agriculture. This is not an isolated incident; many other farms producing fruits and vegetables for export face similar harassment,” Benjamin added.

The petition to the Minister of Interior signed May 24, 2024, highlighted that the illegal sand-winning menace has led to a reduction in land availability for production and export, created significant economic losses from destroyed farm facilities, led to insecurity, and loss of jobs and downsizing.

They added that their inability to meet export orders resulted in the loss of markets, reduced foreign exchange inflows, and loss of investments and operating capital.

They cited that, the exit of Golden Exotics Company Ltd. to Cote D’Ivoire is partly due to similar land issues.

“Illegal sand winners employ armed gangs with sophisticated weapons, creating an environment where productive work is impossible,” stated Benjamin.

The petition calls for immediate action to stop illegal sand-winning activities.

Protect farms and properties, hold perpetrators accountable, provide adequate security and support, and address land litigation and ownership issues.

They also called for policy interventions to prevent future occurrences.

“We have provided evidence of the extensive damage caused by illegal sand-winning activities. This situation must be addressed urgently to prevent further destruction and ensure the survival of our agricultural industry,” Benjamin concluded.

Source: Ghana/ Ansah