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Ghana to Extend Cocoa Rehabilitation Using $200 Million World Bank Loan

By: Ruth Tang

Ghana’s Cocoa Board, Cocobod, is set to revitalize cocoa plantations hit hard by the cocoa swollen shoot virus with the help of a $200 million loan from the World Bank. This virus has caused significant drops in cocoa yields and the loss of trees across about 500,000 hectares of farmland. Last year, Cocobod secured an additional $132.8 million loan to bolster its efforts in combating the virus.

Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa producer, faced a drastic decline in cocoa output last year, plummeting to 600,000 metric tons from a peak of 1.048 million tons in the previous season. This decline was attributed to various factors, including the devastating effects of the cocoa swollen shoot virus, aging plantations, illegal mining, and smuggling activities.

The loans, along with additional funding, will assist Cocobod in rehabilitating affected farms and studying different virus strains. Cocobod’s plan includes taking over diseased farms, replacing sick cocoa trees, nurturing them, and returning them to farmers. Specifically, $132.8 million from last year’s government loan, along with counterpart funding, will go toward these efforts.

“The rehabilitation will take a minimum of five years to start getting economic production,” Cocobod’s Emmanuel Opoku told Reuters, adding that efforts had been hampered by the country’s economic crisis and the board’s limited funds.

In a similar initiative back in 2018, Cocobod used part of a $600 million loan from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to address issues with aging plantations and combat the impact of the disease. However, this endeavour faced hurdles amidst Ghana’s economic crisis, marked by inflation and currency depreciation.

Alhassan Bukari, president of Ghana’s Cocoa, Coffee, and Sheanut Farmers’ Association, emphasized the urgency of robust rehabilitation efforts, given the widespread impact on farmers. Additionally, Cocobod noted a significant 35% decline in graded and sealed cocoa arrivals during the current season, attributed in part to the harsh seasonal dry Harmattan wind and other production challenges.

Source: myjoyonline

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