The Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Hon Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has disclosed that Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) will soon begin handing over the management of rehabilitated cocoa farms to their farm owners.
This comes after a successful two-year-long rehabilitation of hundreds of acres of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Viral Disease (CSSVD) infected farms under the COCOBOD and Government funded Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme. The Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Hon Joseph Boahen Aidoo, made this announcement when he inspected a 145.8-hector rehabilitated cocoa farm at Kumikrom in the Bekwai District of the Western Region.
The inspection was part of a two-day field and farmer-engagement tour of some cocoa communities in the Western North Region. It was also an opportunity for the Chief Executive to check the progress of some cocoa road projects in the Region.
During his interaction with the cocoa farmers at Kumikrom, he disclosed that it was time for early beneficiaries of the rehabilitation programme to take over the care of their farms. While these farmers expressed great joy for taking over their farms, Hon. Boahen Aidoo asked the farmers to adhere strictly to good agronomic and agroforestry practices to ensure that the farms produce at their optimum capacity without adverse environmental impacts.
National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme
The National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, officially launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2020, was devised by COCOBOD to curtail the rapid spread of CSSVD on cocoa farms.
The process begins with the cutting and chemical treatment of cocoa trees on diseased farms. The farms are then replanted with disease-tolerant, early bearing, high yielding cocoa varieties.
During the two-year-long rehabilitation process, COCOBOD bears the cost of all the activities on the farm and the cost of labour. It also gives an amount of GH₵1000.00 per hector to each farmer who has an infected farm which is being rehabilitated. In the case of tenancy, both affected tenant farmers and their landowners are compensated.
A survey conducted in 2017 found that more than half of the 509,295.53 hectares of the cocoa farm in the Western North Region had been infected, and nationally, 315,886 hectares out of a total of 1.9 million hectares of the cocoa farm had been lost to CSSVD.
As a result, cocoa production in the Western North Region dropped from over 330,000mt in 2010/2011 to 154,000mt and has not picked up fully.
Besides the primary goal of stopping the further spread of the disease and restoring the productivity of CSSVD devastated farms, the programme also safeguards the livelihoods of cocoa farmers, helps to ensure better food security through the planting of plantains, tubers, and grains, during the first two years as the cocoa trees’ grow.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs have also been created for the youth in cocoa communities, who provide labour and technical support to rehabilitate the cocoa farms. Many agri-experts have applauded the government for the initiative and have advised the governement to scale the initiative to other Cocoa producing Regions of Ghana.