Cocoa officials in Ghana expect to use over US$400 million to address the ravaging cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (CSSVD), as well as overaged or moribund cocoa farms, which have significantly affected cocoa production in Ghana for some time now.
According to Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), roughly 40% of Ghana’s cocoa farms are diseased, overage or moribund. The source of this information is data gathered in a resurvey programme conducted between 2006 and 2017.
Out of a total of 1,913,166.30 hectares of cocoa farms surveyed, 315,886.06 hectares of outbreak were discovered. It emerged that 17% of the cocoa area surveyed was afflicted by the disease and over 23% of the total cocoa tree stock was overaged (over 30 years old).
In response to these developments, President Akufo-Addo said the government has taken steps for COCOBOD to secure a US$600 million receivables-backed, syndicated loan facility.
“More than two-thirds of the amount will directly go into the rejuvenation of diseased and overaged farms, productivity enhancement activities including pruning and hand pollination, and irrigation of cocoa farms,” he said, adding that the remainder will go to support local processing and value addition, and the promotion of local consumption of cocoa products.
Addressing farmers at the launch of the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North Region, the president said the government sees the CSSVD infestation and spread as a national disaster.
“If today their livelihoods are down by the ravages of CSSVD, then it is right and just that the entire country rises up to the occasion to support them back on to their feet. This is my conviction, and this is exactly what I am doing,” he said.
The government is resolved to replant all CSSVD-affected farms in all regions where farmers cultivate cocoa and help improve the yield per hectare for all cocoa farmers.
It is right and just that the entire country rises up to the occasion to support cocoa farmers back on to their feet
To this end, he signalled that the government has already outlined modalities for the cocoa rehabilitation programme. Accordingly, farmers whose farms have been affected by the diseases will be compensated.
President Akufo-Addo said 11,564.28 hectares of CSSVD-affected farms in the Western North and Eastern Regions have been treated and planted with cocoa, plantain and economic shade trees.
This involves 8,904 farmers, of whom 7,358 have been fully compensated. He offered his assurance that every single cocoa farmer involved would be paid in full.
The next phase of the rehabilitation programme will cover 154,400 hectares of diseased and overaged cocoa trees. Rehabilitation of diseased and overaged cocoa farms involves cutting, treating and replanting of affected farms.
The National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme is designed to help increase and sustain cocoa production in Ghana by cutting and replanting old and diseased cocoa trees.
The programme seeks to assist farmers to achieve higher productivity on the rehabilitated farms, among other things, and encourage them to replant moribund and CSSVD-treated farms with hybrid cocoa varieties which are high-yielding, disease-tolerant and early-bearing.
Sustain the industry
It also seeks to encourage farmers to adopt best agronomic practices and medium-to-high-level farming technologies through efficient back-up extension service delivery.
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, acknowledged that the positive impact of COCOBOD’s various productivity enhancement initiatives has provided enough assurance of production rising significantly in the coming years.
“Apart from sustaining the cocoa industry in the future, the programme is creating thousands of jobs for the youth in affected rural communities and [increasing] the supply of food, particularly plantain and other staples, on to our markets and for export.”
Dr Afriyie Akoto said his ministry is working with COCOBOD to ensure that Ghana’s overreliance on cocoa becomes a thing of the past. Modalities are being fashioned, in line with the Tree Crop Policy, to ensure that other tree crops are given sustained attention and support, he said.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, COCOBOD’s chief executive, said all these unprecedented initiatives by the government affirm its determination to increase cocoa productivity.
He expressed the hope that all these initiatives would be supported by the farmers to make it successful.