The government of Ghana says it has approved US$250million for the country’s Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to rehabilitate cocoa farms over the next three years.
The country said it is seeking to cut down and replant diseased and over-aged cocoa farms under a cocoa rehabilitation programme launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last month.
About 40 percent or 800,000 hectares, out of over 1.9 million hectares of cocoa farms, are either over-aged or affected by swollen-shoot virus disease, according COCOBOD.
Currently, Western, Southern and Eastern Cocoa regions are considered endemic areas, with most farms experiencing low yields due to being diseased. The programme, after three years, is expected to propel Ghana’s production to over 1million metric tonnes per annum.
Under the programme, when a farm is identified as diseased or over-aged, COCOBOD takes it over from the farmer, cuts down the trees, treats the land and replants before returning it to the farmer.
To ensure that the farmer does not lose his livelihood while the farm is being rehabilitated, temporary cash crops such as plantain, pawpaw and timber, among others, are grown on the farm to provide income for the farmer, as well as shelter for the young cocoa trees.
Additionally, farmers, landlords and traditional leaders are compensated when farms are rehabilitated. For instance, for a hectare of cocoa farm government pays the farmer GH¢1000, with the landowner and chief also receiving the same amount.