Galamsey replaces orange farming in Obuasi

“Ghana has not gone back to the days of dumsor, we’re just doing maintenance works” – President Akufo-Addo assures
Ghana has not gone back to the days of dumsor

Last Updated on June 27, 2021 by MyGh.Online

The planting and sale of oranges which used to provide jobs for families in and around Obuasi in the Adansi District of the Ashanti Region is no longer vibrant due to ‘galamsey’ (illegal mining) in the area.

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Some pioneers of the business told The Mirror that most of the orange farm owners had given out their farms to galamsey operators in exchange for huge sums of money.

According to some of these farm owners, leasing orange farmlands to galamsey operators was a quick way to make money as compared to planting oranges which took many years to mature for harvest.

The galamsey operators dig the farmlands in search of gold for sale.

They render the lands unsuitable for farming after their operations.

Galamsey has affected the orange farming business such that there is a shortage of the citrus fruit known as ‘Obuasi ankaa wo)’, to wit ‘Obuasi oranges, tasty as honey’, in the town.

The Mirror’s interaction with some of the traders last week revealed that the once brisk ‘Obuasi ankaa wo)’ business was losing the national recognition of being among vibrant orange hubs in the country.

Madam Cecilia Dapaah, an orange seller who has been in the business for 20 years, said business folded up at a time when galamsey was at its peak in the area a few years ago, forcing most of her colleagues out of the business.

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Another seller, Madam Tina Owusua, said galamsey had not only affected the sellers but many women in the villages, explaining that “the women are employed as farm hands to harvest the fruits on the various farms and some of them carry them to the roadside and are paid on a daily basis; that was the daily bread for these women”.

Farm visit
A visit to some of the orange farms on the Obuasi-Asokwa Junction stretch revealed a very disturbing sight.

Trucks had created paths on the farmlands and they were very muddy with pools of water, even though the illegal miners were not in sight.

Other areas had farms with orange trees tilting as a result of the heaviness of the fruits, while other parts of the farms had cassava or plantain trees.

The Mirror observed that most of the farms looked abandoned, with orange trees completely cut down to make way for galamsey.

Alhaji Nuli, a disturbed orange farm owner at Domeabra, said he was compelled by his children to give out his farms to illegal miners to enable him to earn some money.

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“My orange farms were sources of income to the family; however, there was a connection to Qatar and two of my sons wanted to go and seek greener pastures. We needed money to facilitate their travelling.

“If I had refused, they would have accused me of sabotaging their future. Eventually, they brought in some illegal miners to acquire the farms,” Alhaji Nuli explained.

Orange sellers
The orange sellers, who mostly arranged their produce on trays (with a few peeled and sliced ones to create an appetite appeal) and in baskets, sat on high chairs with tables along the highways, especially on the Obuasi-Dunkwa Junction road on a daily basis.

The Mirror’s visit indicated that currently, all the traders at the Obuasi-Dunkwa Junction had stopped operating, including those at the AGA Hospital junction, and only few were seen at the Pomposo bus stop at night.

Some roasted plantain sellers at the Obuasi-Dunkwa Junction complained that “orange sellers do not come anymore because farm owners have cut down the citrus trees, replacing them with galamsey”.

Orange market
At the Obuasi Orange Market behind the 31st December Movement Day Care Centre, a once vibrant wholesale orange market had vanished.

Only four women had displayed ginger, lime, cassava and some oranges.

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The women who were still in business said they were doing their best to sustain ‘Obuasi ankaa wo)’, but would sell whatever they could to earn a living.

Six oranges were sold for GH₵1 while a sack of oranges was going for GH₵60.

The Queenmother of oranges, Madam Adwoa Nyamekye, who has been selling for 30 years, recounted her journey by confirming the effect of galamsey on their business.

She was emphatic that the citrus fruit was out of stock in the town because every farmer preferred to earn quick money from galamsey.

She said most of the villages, including Pomposo and Domeabra, which were known for harvesting oranges, had either used their lands for settlements or for galamsey activities.

Madam Nyamekye said some prominent farm owners gave out their locally bred orange farms to illegal miners and rather kept the farms with the “agric” type of oranges.

She explained that that was because the “agric” oranges took a maximum of three years to harvest while the sweet local ones took 10 years.

“My village, Pomposo, had oranges in abundance, but today people no longer plant oranges. They have cut down the trees for quick money because of galamsey,” she added.

Credit: Graphic Online

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