Ghana loses over 500,000 hectares of Cocoa farms to Swollen Shoot Viral Disease

Accra: Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), says over 500,000 hectares of Cocoa farms in Ghana have been lost to the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Viral Disease (CSSVD).

He said this was posing a major threat to the country’s cocoa production.

Mr Aidoo said measures have been put in place and continue to be implemented to address the issue.

The CEO made this known during a panel discussion at a partnership meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) in Amsterdam, where he shed light on the multifaceted challenges confronting cocoa production in Ghana.

Mr Aidoo, in addition to CSSVD, 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.

He said coupled with this menace
was climate change which was having a devastating effect on cocoa trees, which are highly sensitive to temperature and weather patterns.

Mr Aidoo said the rise in temperatures, unpredictable rainfall, and prolonged droughts were affecting tree growth and reducing their output.

He 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 CEO stressed the importance of securing sustainable incomes for cocoa farmers, underscoring the Living Income Differential and the recent significant hikes in Ghana’s Producer Price for cocoa farmers as crucial advancements in this regard.

He said there was the need for a collective commitment ac
ross the industry to prioritize the sustainable incomes of cocoa farmers, backed by concrete action to ensure its realisation.

Mr Yves Brahima Koné, the Director General of Conseil du Café Cacao, urged the industry to show immediate commitment to addressing the issue, emphasizing that failure to do so could result in the industry succumbing to these challenges.

Source: Ghana News Agency