EPA’s Laison Group Sabotages Farmers, Land-owners In New Abirem

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Farmers and land-owners affected by the mining activities of Newmont Gold company at Akyem, (The Newmont Akyem Affected Farmers Association) are calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Liaison Group created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from any activity relating to them (farmers) and Newmont.

They are also calling on the Ministry of Agriculture in the district to immediately resume the implementation of the timely distribution of agricultural inputs to farmers, a change in approach of Newmont Gold Company from aggression to fraternal discussions and negotiations on all aspects of the agreement between them.

In a Petition, the affected farmers numbering about 1800 are also demanding an independent monitor to ensure compliance with terms of the agreement.

These calls stem from the fact that the said Liaison Group from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), failed them after coming in with the promise of assisting the farmers because the support they are getting was not enough.

According to information, the Laison group demanded that the progamme must be halted for them to take over and promised to increase the amount of inputs and the acreage from two to five acres for the farmers.

However, to their disappointment, the Liaison Group rather came to sabotage the programme for over six months, later bringing surveyors from Accra to inspect the farm lands in the Birim North District in November 2022, though there were surveyors in the Eastern Region.

According to the farmers, the Laison Group came all the way from Accra to pay cheques for clearing in July 2023, a period not suitable for farming in the district and Ghana as a whole.

“This raises doubts over the sincerity of both Newmont Gold Company and the Liaison Group, and questions over who bears avoidable costs incurred. When we raised concerns over these matters and other issues, Newmont Gold Company shockingly turned to accuse we the farmers of bringing the Liaison Group on board and is not only accusing us of wrongdoing, but also trying to renege on its obligations towards us, per agreements mutually reached,” they averred.

They also pointed out that no amount of expressions of disagreement would change the EPA’s aggressive approach to these matters.

The farmers also faulted Newmont Ghana Ltd, for lack of commitment on their part which led to misunderstanding and slow progress in the implementation of agreements signed with them under the Agriculture Improvement Programme and other programmes concerning Farmers and Land-Owners.

They explained however that, this has led to poverty and deprivation among members as the situation led a series of engagements culminating in negotiated mitigation measures managed by a committee known as the Livelihood Committee.

“These engagements took almost three years, with an agreement that Newmont 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. Those who were sick or too old or were not interested in farming were to be supported to establish other businesses,” they stated.

According to them, the terms of the agreement were being implemented with timely distribution of seeds, seedlings, and chemicals, among others by the Ministry of Agriculture in the district until the Liaison Group from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took over.

They accused the Laison Group headed by Ransford Sakyi of rather sabotaging the programme.

This raises doubts over the sincerity of both Newmont Gold Company and the Liaison Group, and questions over who bears avoidable costs incurred.

However, when the farmers raise concerns over these matters and other issues, Newmont Gold Company shockingly turned to accuse the farmers of bringing the Liaison Group on board and is not only accusing them of wrongdoing, but also trying to renege on its obligations towards them, per agreements mutually reached.

The aggrieved farmers are now demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Liaison Group from any activity relating to the two parties.

“Failure to do these, would be recipe for unrest as we would continue to use every legitimate means available to ensure we are not shortchanged or mistreated in any way,” they warned.

However, when Ransford Sakyi, EPA Laison Group lead was contacted, he asked that the journalist call him later in the day but subsequent calls place through to him remained unanswered.

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