Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has emphatically stated that the cocoa business has bounced back with hope and stability, hence, the misconception created in certain circles that the cocoa sector is on the verge of collapse should be disregarded.
He explained that in 2017, when government assumed office, research indicated that the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) has attacked most farms long ago, and undermined the longevity of the industry and efforts of cocoa farmers.
The solution, according to him, was to cut affected cocoa trees. But unfortunately, farmers did not understand and kept weeding farms attacked by the cocoa disease.
“One affected tree attacked the root of another tree, so we began a tour to farms to educate farmers to cut the affected trees. Today, we have introduced plantain to help nurture and grow the young cocoa plant. European Union reports indicates that Ghana is destroying her forest with cocoa farms. But, as you can see, we are intercropping trees with our young cocoa trees, providing good shade for the cocoa and guiding them to grow,” he said.
He cautioned that if efforts at eradicating cocoa swollen shoot disease is not sustained within five to 10 years, most cocoa farms will be destroyed.
Mr. Aidoo said this when he inspected the rehabilitation of cocoa farms at Kumikrom in the Sefwi Bekwai corridors of the Western North Region.
The visit forms part of his two-day tour of the area to meet the chiefs and people in the cocoa growing areas, interact with farmers and the media as well as assess progress of work on ongoing construction of roads including the Benchemaa-Adjoafua road, Debiso/Adabokrom road, and that of Yamatwa junction/Yamatwa road.
Sefwi Bekwai District Cocoa Officer, Frank Amamo Antwi, briefing the CEO of COCOBOD, on the 145-hectare cocoa rehabilitation farm, mentioned that 74 farmers have benefitted from free cutting of CSSVD in terms of land preparation, free provision of plantain suckers, hybrid cocoa seedlings and economic trees.
The package, he said, also includes payment of compensation to farmers and land owners, maintenance of farms up to two years and free extension education.
So far, he said, 152,000 plantain suckers have been planted on the Kumikrom rehabilitated cocoa farm, adding that “a work gang of 91 have been dedicated and working hard to weed the farm”.
He concluded that pods are flourishing and farmers are harvesting more than 30 bags per hectare as well as working with the youth gangs. “We are bringing cocoa production at Kumikrom back to life”, he said.