The Government has begun cutting down diseased and moribund cocoa trees in Sefwi Wiaso in the Western Region. More that 11 million disease infested cocoa trees will go down in the country-wide exercise being spear-headed by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD). The affected cocoa farmers will earn GHC 552.00 per hectare of their cocoa farm as compensation package.
Land owners or landlords who also gave out their lands to the affected cocoa farmers have also been penciled to get a yet-to-be determined compensation package.
The exercise is expected to continue in the Eastern Region after completion in Sefwi Wiaso and other communities before moving to the remaining five cocoa producing regions.
The Executive Director, Cocoa Health & Extension Division of COCOBOD, Emmanuel Opoku a recent public debriefing clarified that Western Region (North) was chosen ahead of the other cocoa producing regions because it is the “bread-basket” of the cocoa industry in Ghana.
The region produces about 67% of the national volume of cocoa production while the Eastern Region produces about 25% of the national volume of cocoa production.
Asked whether the exercise was not in any way going to affect the cocoa farmers as well as production, Mr. Opoku noted that the farmers have been sensitized and are eager for the exercise to begin because the disease has devastated their source of income overtime and has been waiting for this opportunity. “In spite of this, we have also made available some funds to compensate the affected farmers and the land owners to avoid issues where the farmer, who is a tenant farmer, may lose the land because as soon as the trees are cut, then they are landless – that is the kind of tenure system we have in this country.”
He added “per hectare farms, we are paying GHC552.00. The amount is not small because the cocoa trees are not bearing anything at all. A normal hectare of land, on average, produces about eight bags of cocoa. With the disease, the farmers are getting maximum two bags. Some get nothing at all because the farms are visibly bad”.
The exercise had been in existence prior to 2013 but was not on a large scale. It came to a halt in 2013 with COCOBOD allowing the farmers to execute the task on their own.
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