Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is planting over 1.6 million forest trees in the 2020/2021 cocoa crop year on cocoa farms across the country and also as part of its National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme.
COCOBOD is embarking on the rehabilitation programme to replace about 40% of the country’s cocoa tree stock which are either overaged or affected by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD).
The farms undergoing rehabilitation are being replanted with high yielding, early bearing and disease-tolerant hybrid seedlings developed by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).
For the 2020/2021 crop season, the Seed Production Division (SPD) of COCOBOD has produced 92 million seedlings for distribution to farmers across the country for planting.
The seedlings are to be planted on an estimated 83,636.36 hectares of cocoa farmlands, which include CSSVD treated farms, over-aged and moribund cocoa farms undergoing rehabilitation, filling of vacancies in existing young farms, among others.
It is for this reason, that COCOBOD has made it mandatory for the planting of temporary and permanent shade trees on all farms before the cocoa seedlings are transplanted.
While the temporary shade crops protect the young trees against the sun, thereby, facilitating high survival rates, the permanent trees, all of which are forest trees, provide shade and good temperature for the adult trees.
On average, about 20 economic trees are planted on every hectare of farmland along with 1,100 cocoa seedlings.
In the same way that cocoa seedlings are nursed and supplied free of charge to farmers, these shade trees are also provided by COCOBOD free of charge to farmers.
In all 1,672,727 forest trees are expected to be planted on the estimated 83,636.36 hectares of cocoa farms.
This signifies the important role of the cocoa business in protecting the environment and ensuring a sustained green Ghana while promoting afforestation.
The Government of Ghana intends to plant five million trees on the 11th of June 2021 across the country as an initial programme under the Green Ghana Project.
Every resident in Ghana is encouraged to plant trees on that day and nurture them to maturity, as a way of contributing to the preservation of the environment.
In a statement expressing support for the project, the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said “a Green Ghana is essential for the cocoa industry. This is why our farmers are taught how to practice agroforestry to protect our biodiversity because the cocoa tree itself is a forest tree and it grows in harmony with the rest of the vegetation.”
“The cocoa trees are also a means for carbon sequestration which has become crucial in these times, as we experience changes in our climate. It is also the policy of the Board that no farmer in any part of the country enters a protected forest for cocoa farming”, he added.
Mr Aidoo said it is crucial that as the nation celebrates Green Ghana Day, that people will reflect on the benefits of the ecosystem and work towards its preservation.
There are an estimated 850,000 cocoa farmer households across the country.
“We urge our District officers, technical staff and community extension agents to encourage and mobilize them to take part in the exercise. If every farmer is able to plant at least 5 trees on the day and nurture them, cocoa farmers alone will be contributing about 4,250,000 trees to the Green Ghana Project, in addition to the more than 1.6 million being planted under the Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme”, the COCOBOD chief executive maintained.
The management of Ghana Cocoa Board has challenged all other stakeholders in the cocoa value chain to plant a tree on the day and nurture it to maturity, explaining the Green Ghana Project is a laudable initiative that needs the support of all.