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…As 82.7% trees get infested with SSDV in Sefwi
…But Gov’t jumps in – says DCE
Information gathered by ghananewsonline.com.gh has shown that cocoa production in the country is in a serious crisis as about 82.7% of cocoa trees in the Sefwi Bodi District of the Western North Region alone have been infested with Swollen Shoot Disease Virus (SSDV)
As a result, only the total yield of cocoa produced in the area of late amounts to only 17.3%, a situation which has negatively affected the financial and economic status and activities of citizens there, especially farmers whose sole dependency is on cocoa.
Undoubtedly Sefwi is a major cocoa producing area in the country and with this development, it does not have to take a soothsayer to say that cocoa production in the country has slackened greatly.
The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Sefwi Bodi, Ignatius Kwasi Amankwah, maintains that the government has jumped in strongly to save the situation because it has farmers at heart. He was however quick to admit that a countrywide drive has confirmed the statistics mentioned earlier. According to him, President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo, leading this crusade, has put in place such programmes as, mass cocoa spraying, pruning, nursery pollination and many more.
In this regards, the government has employed people to help rehabilitate affected cocoa farms by cutting down the affected trees and replanting them with nursed seedlings that were freely supplied them.
Amankwah stated that government does the pegging of such farms, and gives plantain and cocoyam suckers to farmers to plant alongside the cocoa seedlings and also give them financial assistance to keep them going during this rehabilitation period.
Also fertilizers especially ammonia ones are given the farmers to help boost the growth of the rehabilitated plants while surviving cocoa trees are given the needed attention by being applied with the required inputs as pesticides saying that this year’s supply has come earlier than last year. This, he said was done under the supervision of the Health and Extension Division of COCOBOD and about 400 people had so far been employed in this regards and making the needed impact with the hope that dead cocoa farms could be resurrected in the next two years.
He maintained that besides the government’s supply of free cocoa seedlings to farmers, the Assembly and himself have taken a keen interest in doing the same by nursing cocoa seedlings for farmers. He said that the Assembly has two sites for this programme, and these are at Ahibenso and Datano, with over 300,000 nursed seedlings hoping that in the next three years’ time, cocoa production in the district would have been revamped, thus making Ghana take her rightful place as the world number one cocoa producer. This is because the government’s programme in revamping cocoa production in the country was nationwide and mostly wide spread in cocoa growing areas.
The DCE stated that following the scorching and subsequent dying of cocoa trees, affected farmers have been given additional attention and duty by being engaged in rice production for sustainance, and so far, they have accepted their new role in rice production with glee and happiness
PLANTING FOR FOOD & JOBS AND FOR EXPORT
Amankwah stated that under this programme, Bodi District was doing very well, especially when it comes to rice production. He stated that in recognition of this, The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRO) had adopted Bodi for rice production. He pointed out that in 2016 about 120 hectares were involved in the rice production.
MOFA, he said, had supplied 1000 bags of rice seeds for planting and also of 1000 bags of NPK fertilizer to help boost production. Besides, the assembly was expecting urea fertilizer for rice farmers in the districts and about 3000 bags were expect.
Hon. Amankwah stated that this programme by the Government had been done well accepted by farmers in the district. He said that with this elaborate programme in the district and also through the country, the NPP’s of reducing rice importation into the country will be met. He said that it was in support of this policy that the Assembly had intensified its participation in the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme, which also goes with employment for the people.
Source: S. O. Ankomah, Bodi