Impact of hybrid cocoa seedlings on production to be felt from next year – Agric Minister

Government has released GH¢20million to compensate poultry farmers affected by the outbreak of Avian Influenza (bird flu).

Government has put in place a more pragmatic policy and programme to facilitate the effective production and distribution of cocoa seedlings to farmers; an initiative that will increase the country’s cocoa production from next year, Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto has said.

Ghana has for some years now recorded a decline in production, a situation that according to the minister is largely a result of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Disease (CSSVD) that has been attacking cocoa farms.

Data available have shown that in 2017/2018 the country recorded an output of 904,740 metric tonnes, a decline from 969,511 metric tonnes in 2016/2017.  The figure dropped further to 811,606 metric tonnes in 2018/2019.

“The rehabilitated cocoa farms are now thriving and under proper maintenance. All things being equal, the full impact of this programme on hybrid seedling production will be felt from the 2021/2022 crop season,” Dr. Afriyie-Akoto said.

He made the remarks on the floor of Parliament, where he was invited to answer questions on urgent measures the ministry has put in place to ensure the production of high-yielding cocoa seedlings to increase the country’s dwindling cocoa production.

Dr. Afriyie-Akoto indicted that most of the cocoa seedlings provided to farmers between 2014 and 2016 were planted in poorly-treated soils, which affected development of the seedlings as nearly all of them became infected with the disease. The situation, he added, led to rapid spread of the disease, especially in the then Western and Eastern Regions.

“Nationally, a whopping 315,886 hectares out of a total 1.9 million hectares of cocoa farm was lost to CSSVD. Production was seriously affected in the Western Region, a major cocoa-producing area.”

This, according to the minister, also contributed to revision of the policy previously put together to deal with the situation; and subsequently allowed COCOBOD to take over the responsibilities of treating the diseased trees, replanting both food and cash crops for affected farmers, maintaining the farms for a two-year period, and paying compensation for the loss of livelihoods, among others.

To effectively address the issues, government subsequently secured US$600million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to scale-up the pilot programme – with US$140 million, representing 23.3 percent, devoted to treatment of the CSSVD.

CCOBOD has since adopted a number of initiatives toward transforming the cocoa sector. “In addition, recommended agronomic practices are being followed to ensure survival of seedlings in the field. These practices are already yielding good results with the ongoing pilot rehabilitation programme,” the minister noted.

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