Under the name Newmont Akyem Affected Farmers Association (NAAFA), the farmers and land-owners affected by the mining activities of Newmont Gold Company at Akyem, in the Eastern Region, are accusing the Liaison Group of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of sabotaging a programme meant to bring them some relief.
The farmers and land owners are calling on the Group to withdraw from the Agriculture improvement programme and any other programmes designed by Newmont Gold Company to mitigate the effects of their mining activities in the area.
In a petition signed by various leaders of the affected community members numbering about 1600, the farmers and land owners are warning that, if the Liaison Group fails to withdraw from the programme by 16th October, 2023, they shall resort to other means to seek their rights.
“We hope that this withdrawal will be done not later than 16th October 2023 to bring peace and harmony between Newmont and the communities. If by October 16th the liaison Group does not withdraw their participation and involvement to Newmont and the Livelihood Committee, we shall advice ourselves.”
They narrate that, Newmont Gold Company had taken over their farm lands, leading to poverty in the communities.
“It is this situation that made the company engage stake holders to form the Livelihood Committee,” they explained.
“These engagements took us almost three years; it was agreed that Newmont will help all farmers and land owners affected by the mining activities to establish new farms. Newmont also agreed to pay for the establishment and maintenance of the farms for three years. Others who were sick or too old or were not interested in farming were to be supported to establish businesses.
We all know that farming depends mainly on seasons and more so on the weather patterns.”
NAAFA explained that, when those engagements were taking place they did not hear or know of any group called Liaison Group until the programme started with timely distribution of seeds, seedlings chemicals and others by the district office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
“To our surprise we were informed by Newmont that a group from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called Liaison Group, said the support was not enough, therefore the progamme must be halted for them to take over. They promised to increase the amount and the acreage from two to five acres,” NAAFA recounted.
However, the farmers claim the intervention has rather turned into a sabotage. “Rather to our disappointment, the Liaison Group came to sabotage the programme for over six months, when they later came with surveyors from Accra to inspect our farm lands in the Birim North District in November 2022, as if there were no surveyors in the Eastern Region and they came to pay cheques for clearing in July 2023.”
“What type of clearing is the farmer expected to do in July in Ghana? We doubt their sincerity to this programme,” the petition alleged.
“We don’t understand why a regulatory body like the Liaison Group have to travel from Accra with workers to come and distribute cheques to farmers in Akyem, at whose expense is this done?
We need to be clear that this programme was never initiated by the Liaison Group but the Livelihood Committee. Please can the Liaison Group identify any direct social intervention programme directed or targeted mainly to farmers and land-owners in the affected communities since you were established?”
The farmers suspect the Liaison Group is pursuing personal than the farmers interests.
“If the Liaison Group, the regulator, has no personal interest or any hidden agenda to sabotage the programme, then we appeal to the Group to revert their services back to the livelihood committee and Newmont.”
They have issued a warning to react if by 16th October, the Group doesn’t withdraw.
They are also advising the Liaison Group to desist from secretly calling on chiefs to intervene in the matter.
Farmers and land owners in the catchment area of Newmont Gold Company Akyem project, have issues with the company over compensation and other issues.