The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is to cut down 39 per cent of the country’s cocoa trees covering a total area of 742,187.81 hectares which are infested with diseases and were moribund, to pave the way for replanting in the affected areas.
While 17 per cent of the country’s cocoa trees covering a total area of 315,886.06 hectares are infected with diseases, 22 per cent covering 426,301.75 hectares are moribund and can, therefore, not contribute much to the total annual cocoa yield of the country.
The Western North Regional Manager of Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD, Mr Samuel Amponsah, who announced this at Goaso in the Asunafo North District of the Brong Ahafo Region, said sensitisation programmes were currently ongoing to educate cocoa farmers to ensure the success of the exercise when it finally set off later this month.
He was speaking to the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a Cooperative Business School for Farmers programme which was attended by about 100 cocoa farmers from the Brong Ahafo and the Sefwi area of the Western Region last Tuesday.
Mr Amponsah indicated that COCOBOD had found it convenient to intervene with the mass cutting down of moribund cocoa trees “because most of the cocoa trees are over age and some of them are affected by the cocoa swollen shoot disease and we want to eradicate this disease.”
“As of now, everything is okay and by next week the cutting will start,” he stated.
According to him, the exercise, code named, “Rehabilitation of diseased and moribund cocoa trees,” would start from the Eastern and parts of the Western regions where the infection “is very very great,” while the other regions would join the exercise in October, this year.
Mr Amponsah said 68 per cent out of the 315,886.06 hectares of cocoa trees infested with diseases nationwide were in the Western North area, while 13 per cent were in the Eastern Region hence, the commencement of the exercise in the two areas.
He added that almost half of the entire cocoa population in the Western North area (42 per cent) were affected by diseases, while 25 per cent of the cocoa population in the Eastern Region were also in the same situation.
Mr Amponsah indicated that COCOBOD had instituted a package to pay compensation to the affected farmers.
He said the affected farmers would be given initial compensation during the tree-cutting exercise and an additional compensation during the replanting in the affected areas.
Additionally, COCOBOD will outsource the replanting exercise to service providers who will plant economic trees and plantain suckers, as well as cocoa seedlings.
“We have agreed to pay GH¢552 per hectare for the initial compensation and GH¢1,290 per hectare during the replanting exercise,” Mr Amponsah added.
He said a loan had been acquired from the World Bank and the African Development Bank to cater for the compensation of the farmers.
Mr Amponsah advised cocoa farmers whose farms are moribund and affected with diseases to take advantage of the exercise because they might regret in future, explaining that the exercise would be launched in the Boako District in the Western Region this month.
He gave an assurance that the exercise would not affect an expected increase in the country’s cocoa yield in the coming season since “the cocoa trees that are expected to be cut down are already unproductive because they are aged and diseased.”