Ghana’s COCOBOD, regulator of the cocoa sector, has announced plans to undertake a nationwide exercise to remove all swollen shoot-affected cocoa trees, to prevent spread of the viral disease.
The control programme which has already received government’s approval, is expected to commence soon. It will also include replanting of some 1,000 hectares of cocoa trees in a 4-year period.
The Executive Director of Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD, Emmanuel Opoku, said a research conducted by regulator identified that most cocoa-growing areas were disease-prone, hence the need to undertake the exercise.
“You can’t do anything about swollen shoot-affected farms. The only control programme we can undertake to change the situation is to cut all the affected farms and replant,” he stated.
He explained that all the necessary structures and logistical support are being arranged for the programme to take off.
The Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD), is a serious constraint to the production of cocoa in West Africa – particularly in Ghana where the disease was first recognised in 1936. Several different strains of the virus exist and can cause defoliation, die-back of the plant and severe yield losses, according to some expert reports.
CSSVD is transmitted by infectious mealybugs and infected bud-wood. The risk of spreading the disease is reduced if mealybugs and live plant material are not transported deliberately or accidentally from place to place.
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), in a report, noted that in susceptible varieties such as West African Amelonado cocoa, the most severe strains of the virus can kill the plant within 2-3 years.
Mr. Opoku who was speaking at the launch of the 25th Anniversary of Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative Cocoa Farmers and Marketing Union, a credit cooperative union for farmers at Tepa, a cocoa growing community in the Ashanti Region, added that other major interventions in the cocoa sector are also being pursued.