Like kola nut and palm oil, Cocoa farming is among the major cash crops cultivated in Ghana and it makes Ghana agricultural sector a leading sector that has improves the country’s gross domestic income over the year.
Cocoa bean is the dried and fully fermented fatty bean of theobroma cacao that’s the cocoa tree, from which chocolates vinegar, alcohol cream, and soap among others are produced.
Cocoa farming is more active in Ghana behind Ivory Coast, and ahead of Cameroon, Indonesia and Nigeria in production ratings which are also major cocoa producers and cocoa is also the chief export of Ghana and the country’s main cash crops.
However cocoa farming in Ghana, have been faced with the challenges of coping with cocoa diseases such as the solo pod and the black pod disease among others. These cocoa diseases are viral disease and have no remedy.
Cocoa pest in Ghana started years back around 1936, it happens as a result of the mistletoe disease where the symptoms were observed, and other problems came up subsequently.
In response to treat these cocoa diseases poses to cocoa production in Ghana, Ghanaian government set up the Ghana cocoa research institute to work on modalities to manage the disease, the institute also serves as research Centre for students.
Research on Cocoa in Ghana and Nigeria have come a long way as they have a lot in common, they collaborates, lead, share research findings every year.
Over the years Ghana cocoa research institute has done a lot, in tackling cocoa related diseases, with the help of the government intervention, but the major threat is still the black pod and the solo pod diseases.
In an interaction with the executive director of Ghana cocoa research institute Dr. F M Amoah,says “over 200 million cocoa trees have been removed to eradicate the spread of the disease and are been replanted while the breeders are working on producing seeds that are resistant to such diseases.
According to him researchers in the institute are putting other agronomic practices to ensure the spread of the disease is minimal and also encourage farming sanitation.
Dr. Frank Amoah further said Cameroon is another major cocoa producing country but don’t have the disease on their farms as the solo pod disease is only a major threat to cocoa cultivation in Ghana and Ivory Coast, and scientist have introduce chemical that control the black pod disease that has the ability to destroy a whole farm within time limit”.
“The only solution of eradication can be done by farm sanitation coupled with applying chemicals on the farm he said
According to the institute director he said “about 1000 agronomy materials were been evaluated and are working with farmers in coaching them indigenous knowledge of the cocoa planting
These chemical were designed for the cocoa farmers which are use 3 times in a year
The director also said in 2010 Ghana cultivated one million tons of cocoa as a result of the intervention carried out with farmers and researchers quest to support farmers compared to before the intervention.
He says the ultimate goal of the institute is to resist the use of pesticides, researchers are trying to avoid the consistent use of chemicals, considering the farmers health as well the crops that are been sprayed
The institute makes it a call to duty for farmers to know anything about the cocoa research is authentic, making them have confidence with the institute.”
On the introduction of genetically modified organism GMO seed which are disease prove into major African markets, the director of the institute says they don’t have any GMO on cocoa as they sell most of the materials to the European countries that don’t bother much about the GMO crops.
In a related interaction, a member of the African agricultural technology foundation in Ghana, Dr. Prince Addae when asked about why Ghana is no more topping the rank in best cocoa producing country as it has been known for, like the Nigeria was also know for the groundnut pyramids, “ he says although he grew up in Tafo where the institute of the cocoa is located –the technology is developing the key element of this technologies have not develop a genre for the dicotyledonous plant which is very hard as cotton is in the group ,it takes eleven months to take up the genre .He says the biological process is long
On the Deputy Minister for food and agriculture part Alhaji Ahmed Yahaya Alhasan –believes although they are no more number one, but says there is a enough emphasis as cocoa is the major source of their income where they hit a million tones, in 2011, now 850thousand is the highest turn off of cocoa since its inception, he believes Ghana is still at the higher point of producing it, and hope they will, believing internally cocoa is the most developed commodity institution in Ghana
According to the minister, Now Ghana has finally employ ways to tackle seed smuggling in order to regain the high rank it’s in cocoa production again.
They achieved this feat through increasing the price that they give to the farmers to encourage them, and finally they have embarked on mass spray of cocoa farms for free.
Sooner or later they believe they will resume the first position as the industries is constantly growing and they are moving up compare to its production.