Ghana, Israel sign agreement to eliminate cocoa diseases

Ghana and Israel have signed a cooperation agreement to combat the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD).

Ghana is the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa, the chief ingredient in chocolate.

However, a myriad of challenges including diseases such as the CSSVD have been militating against annual production targets.

In a renewed bid to boost production – currently around 900,000 metric tonnes – Ghana’s cocoa sector regular, the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), has been implementing a combination of interventions dubbed ‘Productivity Enhancement Programmes’ (PEPs).

These include rehabilitation of moribund cocoa farms, supply of free seedlings to farmers, mass pruning of farms, subsidised fertiliser, hand pollination, mass-spraying and irrigation.

It is in the light of increasing Ghana’s cocoa yields that Cocobod sought collaboration with Israel.

Cocobod and Israel’s National Agricultural Research and Development Innovation Hub, Volcani (ARO), recently, signed a memorandum of collaboration to find a permanent solution to the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD).

The brief signing ceremony was held at the Volcani’s Cocoa Cure Centre in Israel. The collaboration is also aimed to optimise cocoa nutrition, irrigation and pollination, as well as to improve cocoa seedling health and resilience via biochar solution in nurseries and during planting.

The collaboration is also expected to help develop climate and pest resilient cocoa strains having favourable flavouring and health profiles, as well as other subjects of mutual interest such as integrated shade/irrigation solutions, post-harvest processing and storage, reduction of post-harvest losses and more.

Cocobod Chief Executive, Joseph Boahen Aidoo who signed on behalf Ghana, said: “There is a need to collaborate to find an antidote to CSSVD, as we cannot wait any further since the disease poses a major threat to survival of the cocoa industry”.

According to the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (CSSVD) has since its discovery in 1936, in the Eastern Region of Ghana, been a major constraint to cocoa production.