In a grim revelation, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), announced that Ghana has lost over 500,000 hectares of cocoa farms to the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Viral Disease (CSSVD), posing a severe threat to the nation’s cocoa production.
The disclosure, came during a panel discussion at a partnership meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) in Amsterdam.
The Cocoa Swollen Shoot Viral Disease, known for its devastating impact on cocoa plants, has dealt a significant blow to Ghana’s vital cocoa industry.
This revelation underscores the urgent need for decisive action to mitigate the effects and safeguard the livelihoods of cocoa farmers, as well as the country’s economy heavily dependent on cocoa exports.
Mr Aidoo, acknowledged the gravity of the challenge and assured stakeholders that measures have been put in place to address the issue.
He emphasized the ongoing efforts to implement comprehensive strategies aimed at curbing the spread of the disease and revitalizing the affected cocoa farms.
During the panel discussion, Mr Aidoo, shed light on the multifaceted challenges confronting cocoa production in Ghana.
The loss of such a substantial expanse of cocoa farms not only threatens the income of countless farmers but also raises concerns about the global cocoa supply chain, given Ghana’s significant role as one of the world’s leading cocoa producers.
The government and relevant authorities are now faced with the critical task of intensifying their efforts to combat the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Viral Disease and restore the affected cocoa farms to ensure the sustainability of Ghana’s cocoa industry. The global cocoa community will closely watch as Ghana strives to overcome this crisis and protect its position in the international cocoa market.
In addition to CSSVD, the COCOBOD CEO, highlighted the detrimental impacts of illegal mining and climate change, which further exacerbate the decline in cocoa productivity and pose a great threat to the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
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.
Coupled with this menace is climate change which is having a devastating effect on cocoa trees, which are highly sensitive to temperature and weather patterns.
The rise in temperatures, unpredictable rainfall, and prolonged droughts are affecting tree growth and reducing their output, he added.
Mr Aidoo, 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 cocoa varieties, compensating affected farmers, and promoting good agricultural practices.
The COCOBOD boss, also stressed the importance of securing sustainable incomes for cocoa farmers, underscoring the Living Income Differential (LID) and the recent significant hikes in Ghana’s Producer Price for cocoa farmers as crucial advancements in this regard.
Nevertheless, he underscored the need for a collective commitment across the industry to prioritize the sustainable incomes of cocoa farmers, backed by concrete action to ensure its realisation.
The Director General of Conseil du Café Cacao, Yves Brahima Koné, also touched on the major threat that CSSVD poses to West African cocoa production.
He urged the industry to show immediate commitment to addressing this issue, emphasizing that failure to do so could result in the industry succumbing to these challenges.