Last Updated on August 14, 2020 by MyGh.Online
An officer of COCOBOD pointing to a cocoa tree infected with the swollen shoot virus at one of the farms at Debiso
The government has begun a large-scale rehabilitation of cocoa farms affected by the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (CSSVD) in the Western North Region.
The exercise is aimed at reversing the dwindling cocoa production in the area, which used to produce about one-third of the nation’s annual cocoa output.
Within the last 10 years, the production of cocoa in the Western North Region, previously, the Sefwi area of the Western Region ,has dropped from 340,000 tonnes to 140,000 tonnes a year, a development attributed mainly to the devastating effects of the swollen shoot disease.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is spearheading the rehabilitation exercise.
More to benefit
The Western North Regional Manager of COCOBOD in charge of the CSSVD, Mr Kwame Owusu-Ansah, said during a tour of some of the affected farms last Monday that the rehabilitation of the farms was the surest way of salvaging the situation and increasing national output.
More than 500,000 hectares of cocoa farms will benefit from the initiative which is being financed with part of the $600 million syndicated loan granted COCOBOD by the consortium of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), led by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Mr Owusu-Ansah said the previous rehabilitation was funded solely from the company’s board budgetary allocation, which was quite unsustainable considering the threat at hand.
“Currently, we believe that apart from facilitating a successful implementation of the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, the AfDB loan will support us to strengthen the cocoa value chain, help alleviate poverty by increasing productivity and promote a progressive and sustainable cocoa economy,” he sad.
Mr Owusu-Ansah said after the rehabilitation of the farms, the farmers would be supplied with high-yielding cocoa varieties likely to triple the output of the region in the nearest future.
He said a second survey conducted on cocoa farms in the region revealed that 42 per cent of tree stocks in the region were diseased.
“Our third nationwide survey has been conducted on 225,953.92 hectares of cocoa farms, which revealed that 156,114.4 hectares, representing 69.09 per cent, are diseased and, therefore, unproductive. This means that the spate of the spread of the disease is alarming and really affecting the cocoa industry, and the farmers are on the verge of losing their livelihood,” he said.
He explained that the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease has no chemical control, therefore, the only measure is to cut all trees in the diseased cocoa farms and pay compensation to the affected farmers and land owners.
Mr Owusu-Ansah said at present, a total of 4,500 farmhands had been engaged from the beneficiary communities to support the programme.
The regional manager said so far, 10,205.52 hectares of the spotted diseased farms had been treated, with plantain suckers and cocoa planted on them.
Mr Owusu-Ansah commended the farmers for the cooperation after the initial hesitation.
A beneficiary farmer, Mr Stephen Awuah, said initially they were not in support of COCOBOD but after seeing the prospects of other model farms and the explanation of the officials, they agreed to rehabilitate their farms.