The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said the swollen shoot disease (CSSVD) has been the major factor that has contributed to the decline in the production of cocoa in the country for the past 10 years.
According to Dr Akoto, the cocoa sector has been the backbone of Ghana’s economy until the discovery of oil but the sector has its own problems that have contributed to its underperformance in recent times.
The minister said this in parliament in response to a question filed by the member of parliament for Sagnarigu, A.B.A. Fuseini, who requested the minister to outline the plans put in place to ensure the production of high-yielding cocoa seedlings in the face of the fluctuating levels of production over the past five years.
Dr Akoto conceded that there has been a systematic decline in the country’s cocoa production in the last five years, as observed.
Speaking to the house, he said the ministry will tackle the problem by deploying researchers onto the field the investigate the problem, as well as developing hybrid seedlings with relatively high resistance to the disease.
He assured the lawmakers that together with the Cocoa Health Extension Division of COCOBOD, the Seed Division of Ghana Cocoa Board will ensure the production and distribution of hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers for transplanting.
Stressing the steps the ministry and COCOBOD will take to reverse the decline in the cocoa industry, Dr Akoto said there will be the adoption of the use of galvanised poles and treated lumber for the nursery structures instead of bamboo.
He also said they will replace the disposable single-use polybags with more durable and environmentally-friendly UV-protected receptacles as well as provide on-farm water sources through the sinking of boreholes and other irrigation facilities in water-deprived areas.