The Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) is the new name for Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Control Unit (CSSVDCU) of Ghana Cocoa Board, formerly Cocoa Services Division of the Department of Agriculture has had a chequered history since its establishment in 1945.
The Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus disease was first reported in the 1930s in the Eastern Region and has since spread throughout the cocoa growing regions of the country. The Government realizing the serious threat that the disease posed to the Industry, set up the Cocoa Division as a Unit under the then Department of Agriculture to control the CSSVD and cocoa pests. The government also created cocoa stations where seeds were multiplied, seedlings raised and farmers educated on the correct method of cocoa cultivation.
In 1962 when the disease was fairly well under control and the location of CSSVD outbreaks had been identified, the Cocoa Division was disbanded and the control of the disease was passed on to cocoa farmers under the United Ghana Farmers’ Co-operatives (UGFC) with the withdrawal of grant payments being made under the various control schemes but this did not work. Cocoa Division was, therefore, reconstituted in 1964/65 when it became evident that the farmers could not handle the disease control programme.
In 1972, Cocoa Division was brought under the Ministry of Cocoa Affairs and was renamed Cocoa Production Division. Cocoa Extension which was under the Ministry of Agriculture until 1972 was also transferred to the newly created Ministry of Cocoa Affairs. In July 1979, when the Ministry of Cocoa Affairs was dissolved, Cocoa Production Division was placed under the Management of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD). Following a major restructuring exercise of Ghana Cocoa Board, its Subsidiaries and Divisions in 1985, the Cocoa Production Division was renamed Cocoa Services Division (CSD), with three (3) clear functions:
- To control the spread of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD)
- To produce and supply hybrid seed pods to farmers (cocoa agronomy)
- To educate farmers on approved agronomic and cultural practices in cocoa cultivation (cocoa extension).
In response to recommendations made by consultants and other working groups, the government decided to unify cocoa extension with Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) Extension Services in 1998. Consequently, cocoa extension was ceded to MOFA.
Cocoa Services Division was dissolved thereafter and two units, namely, the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Control Unit (CSSVDCU) and Seed Production Unit (SPU) were created in January 2001 to control and replant diseased cocoa farms and produce hybrid cocoa pods for farmers, respectively.
Following serious concerns from farmers and other stakeholders for effective and efficient extension system for cocoa farmers, the Public Private Partnership in Cocoa Extension, which is co-ordinated by CSSVDCU came into being in early 2010.
The mission of CSSVD Control Unit is to control the spread of cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (and other diseases), assist farmers to replant their treated and rehabilitated farms with improved cocoa varieties as well as provide backup extension services to meet the technical needs of cocoa farmers in Ghana.
CSSVD Control Unit has a ten-member Management Committee that ensures effective implementation of policies. The Unit is headed by an Executive Director, assisted by two Deputy Directors, in charge of Operations and Finance & Administration respectively. There are six major departments made up of Technical, Extension, Cartography, Human Resource, Accounts and Audit. Besides, the Unit operates in seven (7) Cocoa Regions of Ghana namely; Eastern, Ashanti, Central, Brong-Ahafo, Western North, Western South and Volta Regions. The seven Cocoa Regions are further divided into 41 Districts.
In addition, the Unit has oversight responsibility for the Bunso Cocoa College.
Some of the functions of the Unit are:
- Survey all cocoa areas to identify cocoa swollen shoot virus disease outbreaks;
- Assist farmers to replant their treated farms with improved varieties which are early bearing, high yielding, and disease- tolerant;
- Generate data on the distribution of cocoa varieties and age classification of cocoa trees.
- Pay compensation to farmers whose farms have been treated, replanted and maintained.
- Provide assistance to farmers who are establishing new cocoa farms.
- Provide extension training and education to farmers on good agricultural practices (GAPs).
- Assist farmers to rehabilitate old and moribund cocoa farms, including removal of parasitic mistletoes.
FUNCTIONS AND ACTIVITIES OF THE CARTOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT
The Department is responsible for collating data on field operations and also developing appropriate management information to support CSSVD control, rehabilitation and extension activities.
- Prepare suitable plan/maps and charts using GIS(Geographic information System) and other technology for decision making
- Design and manage an electronic database system on farmers’ ex-gratia compensation and farm rehabilitation cost
- Field data processing, training, monitoring and maintenance of GPS (Global Positioning System) equipment used in data capturing.
DATA CAPTURING AND PROCESSING
- (Juno) Hand held GPS is used for capturing data on farms.
- Arc pad application software is used to process the captured data and stored or saved as a standard storage format (SSF) file.
- Stored data is converted into a geodatabase file for manipulation, analysis, management, and storage in ArcGIS Environment.
NATIONAL COCOA REHABILITATION PROGRAMME
Many cocoa farms in Ghana are old (more than 30 years) which have resulted in low yields. Poor yields are also a result of poor maintenance and nutrient-deficient soils. The national average yield is estimated at 450kg/ha. Research indicates that about 23% of cocoa farms in Ghana are over 30 years with most farms heavily infested with mistletoes. The consequence of these is a drastic reduction in the potential yields of cocoa in farms nationwide.
However, agronomic practices such as fertilizer application, mistletoe removal, weeding, pest and disease control, could lead to yields of over 1000kg/ha. Replacement of old cocoa trees with early bearing and high yielding hybrid varieties could enhance and sustain production in the medium to long term.
It is against this backdrop that COCOBOD initiated the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme which was launched at Goaso in the Brong/Ahafo region on the 27th April, 2012.
The programme is being implemented under two main components:
- Component 1- Cutting out of old unproductive cocoa tree stocks and assisting farmers to replant with high yielding, early bearing and disease tolerant varieties.
- Component 2- Rehabilitation of A (0-7yrs), B (8-15yrs), C (16-30yrs) classes of cocoa through mistletoe removal, fertilizer application, shade manipulation and general good farm practices.
The general objectives of the rehabilitation programme are:
- To embark on an aggressive nationwide control of mistletoes;
- To replace the old unproductive cocoa trees with hybrid cocoa variety, that is early maturing , high yielding and disease tolerant;
- To encourage farmers to adopt Good Agronomic Practices (GAP), and use medium to high farming technologies, through backup efficient extension services;
- To enhance food production in scheme areas through the cultivation of grains, tubers and plantain to ensure food security;
- To incorporate planting of economic shade trees as an alternate livelihood for farmers and improve the ecosystem in the long term;
- To provide jobs for the rural communities particularly the youth to enhance their incomes and living standards, and motivate them to take up cocoa cultivation;
- To assist farmers to achieve higher productivity in the rehabilitated and replanted farms and thereby increase income.
The new cocoa extension was launched in 2010 as the Cocoa Extension Public-Private Partnership (CEPPP). The new system operates under the principle of lean staff numbers who are professionally trained and highly qualified and motivated to provide cost-effective and efficient cocoa extension services to business-oriented farmers ready to demand services and be owners of cocoa extension.
The Objectives of CEPPP are:
- To provide an efficient and cost-effective extension to cocoa farmers to increase their productivity, improve income and enhance their livelihood.
- To assist farmers to acquire knowledge and skills to be able to adopt good agricultural practices (GAP)
- To orientate and train cocoa farmers in basic farm economics for them to consider cocoa farming as a rewarding business
- To educate and encourage farmers to own cocoa extension.
- To encourage the youth to take to cocoa cultivation
- To strengthen Farmer Group (FGs) to access inputs/credit.
- To build the capacity of extension staff to deliver training to farmers.
- To build capacities for effective monitoring and evaluation.
CEPPP is made up public and private partners. Ghana Cocoa Board and its subsidiaries: Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Control Unit (CSSVDCU), Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Quality Control Co. Ltd (QCCL), Seed Production Unit (SPU) constitute the public sector.
The private sector partners include Mondelez (Cadbury), Solidaridad (West Africa), World Cocoa Foundation /Cocoa Livelihoods Programme (WCF/CLP) and allied agencies, Armajaro Ghana Limited, Rainforest Alliance and Farmers.
These partners provide funds for recruitment, remuneration, and training of extension agents. They also jointly provide for training materials, publications and the cost of training farmers. GIZ-Sustainable Cocoa Business in collaboration with the other partners provide support in the training of farmers in Farmer Business School.