Ghana and La Cote d’Ivoire have jointly launched a project to destroy and refurbish large tracks of unproductive cocoa farms in both countries with the ultimate medium to long-term objective of increasing the production and quality of the beans as well as incomes of the farmers.
The entire project is to be funded by the African Development Bank with $1.2bn. The joint launch of the project, to be funded by the Africa Development Bank, has taken place at Pillar 34 in Ghana’s Bia West district of the Western region by the Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo and the Managing Director of the Conseil du Cofe-Cacao of La Cote d’Ivoire, Mr. Kone Brahima.
Ghana and La Coted’Ivoire, together, produce about 60 per cent of the total global cocoa with La Cote d’Ivoire as the world leader.
However, the production of this
much sought after commodity in these two West African neighbouring countries are being undermined seriously by certain factors, aside from what is perceived as an unfair on the world market.
Among these negative factors are diseased and overaged cocoa trees as well as moribund farms which are also affecting the incomes of the farmers.
Statistics from the COCOBOD indicates that Ghana alone is now having 17 per cent of its entire cocoa tree stock affected by the Swollen Shoot disease which is an airborne viral attack that can only be controlled by total destruction.
The joint project, which follows a bilateral agreement signed by the presidents of the two countries in March this year, will culminate in the destruction of 680 thousand hectares of diseased cocoa farms in Ghana, while in La Cote d’Ivoire, about 100 thousand hectares are to go down under the same conditions.
The joint launch of the project took place at Pillar 34 in the Bia West district of Ghana while there were symbolic cocoa trees destruction on the two border towns of La Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana with the CEO of Ghana’s COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahene Aidoo and his counterpart of the Conseil du Cofe-Cacao of La Cote d’Ivoire supervising.
The Western Regional Minister, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, in an address read for him, noted that the region, which produces a greater proportion of Ghana’s cocoa, has about 48 per cent of the farms affected
by the dreaded Swollen Shoot disease with about nine per cent of the cocoa tree stock also identified to be overaged.
The Managing Director of the Conseil du Cofe-Cacao of La Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Kone Brahim, indicated that the swollen shoot viral disease spreads through the air without any known control measure, apart from being borderless, and that it requires collaborative efforts of all key stakeholders to minimize its havoc.
He, therefore, commended leaders of the two countries for the joint initiative to stop the spread of the disease.
The Chief Executive COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo disclosed that the destruction and refurbishment of the affected cocoa farms are expected to last between seven and eight years in order to improve the yields and incomes of the concerned farmers.
He said as part of the project, COCOBOD plans to provide the participating farmers and landowners with subsistence allowance, free cocoa seedlings, crop plants during the rehabilitation period as well as extension services to at least reduce the level of agitation and conflict likely to arise from land tenure. He appealed to the farmers to be affected to cooperate in the interest of the country.