Cocoa rehabilitation ainitiative commendable
Cocoa production is at the core of the country’s economic growth and development, and so the rehabilitation of cocoa farms is essential in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the sector.
The cocoa sector is. however, under serious threat due to climate change, diseases, moribund farms, overage tree stocks, an ageing farmer population, an acute labour shortage and other factors.
This has resulted in the dwindling productivity of the cocoa sub-sector, although deforestation for cocoa farmland expansion poses signiﬁcant long-term risks to ecosystem stability and environmental conservation.
In spite of the growing global demand for chocolate, cocoa farmers see lower incomes due to poor agricultural techniques, lack of investment and a reduced productivity of their lands.
Cocoa replanting and rehabilitation eﬀorts are therefore crucial to the sustainable production of the crop along the trail to redeﬁne a paradigm shift from extensive to an intensive production system.
From the sustainability point of view, intensive cocoa production will reduce pressure on deforestation and facilitate the speedy restoration of some degraded farmlands.
That is why the Daily Graphic welcomes the cocoa rehabilitation programme to increase the country’s production of cocoa which currently stands around 800,000 tonnes per annum to an estimated 1.5 million tonnes in the next five years.
Currently, it is estimated that Ghana has more than 2.5 million hectares of cocoa areas of which about 1.45 million hectares are considered to be productive areas.
There are a number of diseases that affect the cocoa pod, but the most common disease in West Africa – where about three-quarters of the world’s cocoa is produced – is the Cacao Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV).
Daily Graphic, therefore, commends the government for the large-scale rehabilitation of cocoa farms affected by the swollen shoot disease to reverse the declining cocoa production in the country.
For the cocoa farmers, what they require most are short-and long-term financial assistance and technical help to enforce the required farm improvements.
We are happy to note that, so far, most of the rehabilitated farms are producing high yields, according to the Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahene Aidoo.
It is our hope that COCOBOD schemes and programmes that seek to train farmers to produce cocoa that conform to global demands and standards, to increase production and income, would be strictly enforced as well as broadened to cater for practical field training and periodic supervision to help farmers gain the requisite knowledge and experience in proper farm management.
We again urge the government to take a second look at the country’s inputs supply structure and restructure it to meet the pressing demands and needs of the farmers.
For instance, the fact that inputs are not readily available in local stores, even when the farmers can afford them, is an indication of an ineffective inputs supply structure.
Lastly, the government should recognise the role of women in the various stages of cocoa production and introduce policies that will attract more women into the sector, and also provide financial assistance to make cocoa farming attractive to the youth as a measure to tackle high rural unemployment, increase annual yields and foreign exchange revenues, reduce rural-urban migration and help alleviate rural poverty.