Over 500,000 hectares of Ghana’s cocoa farmlands lost to swollen shoot virus disease
During a high-level panel discussion at the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) partnership meeting in Amsterdam, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), revealed that Ghana has lost over 500,000 hectares of farmland to the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (CSSVD), casting a shadow over the country’s cocoa production.
In a candid assessment, Mr Boahen Aidoo outlined the multifaceted challenges plaguing Ghana’s cocoa industry, citing the detrimental impacts of illegal mining and climate change. He underscored how unchecked mining activities were ravaging the landscape, causing deforestation, soil degradation, and water pollution, all of which are impeding cocoa tree growth.
Climate change exacerbates the situation, with rising temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns, and prolonged droughts stunting cocoa tree growth and reducing yields.
“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.
To combat the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease menace, COCOBOD initiated the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme in 2018, aiming to contain the disease, rejuvenate unproductive farms, and uplift cocoa farmers’ livelihoods. The program entails identifying and culling diseased trees, replanting with disease-resistant cocoa varieties, compensating affected farmers, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.
Mr Boahen Aidoo speaking further, stressed the importance of securing sustainable incomes for cocoa farmers, highlighting initiatives such as the Living Income Differential and significant price hikes for Ghana’s cocoa producers as pivotal strides.
He called on Ghana’s cocoa industry to unite in prioritizing the welfare of cocoa farmers, urging concrete action to ensure their financial sustainability.
Yves Brahima Koné, Director General of the Conseil du Café Cacao, echoed Mr Boahen Aidoo’s sentiments, urging immediate action to address the threats confronting the cocoa industry, warning of dire consequences if left unattended.