COCOBOD to cut down 700,000 hectares of diseased cocoa trees

Mr Isaac Yaw Oppong, Manager , quality control COCOBOD

Mr Isaac Yaw Oppong, Manager , quality control COCOBOD

About 700,000 hectares of diseased cocoa trees across the country are to be cut down by the end of the year.

Already, diseased trees on some 10,000 hectares of farmlands in the Western Region, are being cut down to pave way for a massive replanting exercise.

The move which is being done concurrently with neighbouring Cote d’lvoire, formed part of interventions to streamline the industry while increasing productivity to boost economic growth.

The Quality Control Manager of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Isaac Yaw Opoku speaking on behalf of the Executive Director, said, the interventions were also aimed at safeguarding the image of both countries, as major exporters of cocoa thereby ensuring the production of quality beans.

He was addressing the maiden Global Cocoa Farmers (GCF) conference, in Accra, yesterday which is aimed at highlighting pertinent issues affecting farmers and the cocoa production sector on the whole and ways to address them.

About 200 cocoa farmers and key stakeholders in the sector, are attending the event organised by the World Cocoa Farmers Association (WCFO) in partnership with Farms Gate Cocoa Alliance, which is on the theme; ‘Making a difference together’.

Mr. Opoku indicated a decline in revenue generation from cocoa production across the country, which was not only affecting farmers and the country at large.

“Most of the cocoa trees we have are very old while some have been infected with swollen shoot viruses and therefore cannot produce enough to accrue appreciable income so we have decided to rehabilitate such farms.

We are cutting them down and will replant to give new energy to new trees to increase the yields and in turn make the needed income,” he explained.

The manager further disclosed that Cocobod under the recently acquired GH¢1.3 million loan facility had acquired special machines to prune overgrown farms, another situation which he observed stifled production.

“We are also beginning an early mass spraying of farms, give improved planting materials including seedlings to farmers and subsidise fertilisers as part of interventions to boost yields in the sector,” he added.

Mr. Opoku entreated Ghanaians to develop the habit of consuming locally produced cocoa products to support the sector to thrive better than it was doing now.

The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Ron Striker in an address pointed out the economic relationship between the Netherlands and Ghana as it “imports about 20 per cent of Ghana’s cocoa making it the largest importer”.

As such, Mr. Striker observed the need for strengthened collaborations to sustain the cocoa sector to improve the livelihood of industry players and promote national development.

According to the Ambassador, the Netherlands was committed to its 100 per cent guaranteed sustainable cocoa consumption agenda by 2025 and would support initiatives at moving the sector from “aid to trade”.

“We have a strong relationship with consuming chocolates in the Netherlands so it is important we all work together to provide a fair and sustainable life for our farmers and improve the country’s economic gains through cocoa,” he stated.

The WCFO President, Mr. Abraham Adusei on his part decried how cocoa farmers had been relegated to the background in key policy implementation despite their contributions in sustaining the food value chain.

He asked that inputs of cocoa farmers were factored into policy formulation as “we are equal partners in the development of the country”.

By Abigail Annoh                                                      

 

 

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