Ghana loses over 500,000 hectares of cocoa farms to swollen shoot virus disease

COCOBOD says measures have been put in place to halt the spread of the disease, restore unproductive farms and improve the livelihood of cocoa farmers

Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the chief executive officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), says over 500,000 hectares of farmland in the country have been lost to the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (CSSVD).

He said this poses a major threat to the country’s cocoa production. Boahen Aidoo however said measures have been put in place and continue to be implemented to address the threat.

He made this known during a panel discussion at a partnership meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) in Amsterdam, where he shed light on the multifaceted challenges confronting cocoa production in Ghana.

In addition to CSSVD, Boahen Aidoo highlighted the detrimental impact of illegal mining and climate change, which further exacerbate the decline in cocoa productivity and pose a great threat to farmer livelihood.

“The unregulated mining industry is causing deforestation, soil degradation and water pollution, all of which are negatively affecting the growth of cocoa trees,” he said.

Rehab programme

He said that coupled with this menace is climate change, which is also having a devastating effect on cocoa trees, which are highly sensitive to changes in temperature and weather pattern.

Boahen Aidoo said the rise in temperatures, unpredictable rainfall and prolonged drought are affecting tree growth and reducing their output.

He said to address the CSSVD challenge, COCOBOD instituted the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme in 2018 to halt the spread of the disease, restore unproductive farms and ultimately improve the livelihood of cocoa farmers.

The rehabilitation programme involves identifying diseased farms, cutting down affected trees, replanting with disease-resistant varieties of cocoa, compensating affected farmers and promoting good agricultural practices.

The COCOBOD chief executive officer stressed the importance of securing sustainable incomes for cocoa farmers, underscoring the Living Income Differential and the recent significant hikes in Ghana’s producer price for farmers as crucial advancements in this regard.

He said there is a need for a collective commitment across the industry to prioritise the sustainable incomes of cocoa farmers, backed by concrete action to ensure its realisation.

Yves Brahima Koné, the director general of the Conseil du Café Cacao, urged the industry to show immediate commitment to addressing the threats, emphasising that failure to do so could result in the industry succumbing to these challenges.

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