Notes to broadcasters
After the Ivory Coast, Ghana is the second largest cocoa exporter in the world. Cocoa is Ghana’s main cash crop and one of the main contributors to economic growth in the country.
Cocoa producers in Ghana are mainly small-scale farmers with an average farm plantation of three hectares or less. Larger farmers have plantations ranging from three to 50 acres of land, but no farmers dominate the sector. Most small-scale cocoa farmers and their families rely solely on farm produce for their livelihoods.
Recently, small-scale farmers have been facing the risk of losing their source of income due to the rise of diseases and viruses on many cocoa farms in Ghana. Apart from disease problems, many farms have very old cocoa trees, 30 years old or more. Older trees are more susceptible to disease and have low yields, which has drastically reduced the productivity of farmers.
Therefore, Cocobod—the body that governs cocoa production, processing, marketing, and distribution in Ghana—has introduced a cocoa rehabilitation program. This program helps farmers remove their old trees and replace them with hybrid varieties which produce more pods and increase farmers’ income.
This script introduces the problems associated with keeping old and diseased cocoa trees, and shows how this problem can be solved by cutting down low-yielding and unhealthy cocoa trees and replacing them with new hybrid seedlings.
The script presents the benefits of cocoa rehabilitation and deals with the issues surrounding this initiative. It may also allay many farmers’ fears concerning the process of cutting down old and diseased cocoa trees and replacing them by new hybrid, high-yielding and disease-tolerant trees.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on cocoa or other cash crops in your area. You might chose to produce this script as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
If you broadcast to a cocoa-growing area, you might want to adapt this program for your audience and then invite listeners to call or text their comments and questions. Here are some possibilities for discussion:
- Are there opportunities for cocoa farmers to profit from adding value to cocoa in your listening area?
- Can local cocoa farmers benefit from practicing this cocoa rehabilitation program? How?
- What are the barriers to profiting from cocoa farming in your area?
- What can cocoa farmers do to sustain themselves and their families during the three-year waiting period after they cut their old trees?
- How can cocoa farmers benefit from planting shade trees? What are the best shade trees available to the farmers in your area?
The estimated running time for this script is 20 minutes, with intro and outro music.
My name is Nadia and I have here, Mr. Theophilus Osei Owusu, the deputy director at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, or MoFA. He will tell us all that he knows about the topic on our table: Rehabilitating cocoa plantations. In other words, he will tell us all about planting new trees to replace old ones in cocoa farming.
Good morning, Mr. Osei Owusu, how are you?
Since you are a deputy director at MOFA in Accra, how close are you to farmers living in rural areas?
Now let’s get back to the basics: what do you make of cocoa rehabilitation and cocoa farming?
Every cocoa plantation needs permanent shade trees to help the cocoa trees survive for a long period of time. Some farmers neglect this important aspect of cocoa farming, and this is why they end up with very low yields.
Shade trees are beneficial to farmers because, when a farmer cuts his old cocoa tree and plants his new seedling, he will need shade trees to protect the growing cocoa seedling. These shade trees will create the right kind of humidity the cocoa tree needs to grow.
Bia produces the second most cocoa of all Ghana’s districts.
The second class of trees—old trees—are usually more than 30 years old and have faded leaves or have lost most of their leaves, and are unproductive.
The third class of trees—young diseased trees—are young trees that are growing very close to old trees and, as a result, are infected with a disease from the old trees.
Another problem is the land tenure system. Tenant farmers are afraid that when they cut cocoa trees, the owner may take over the land.
Another factor is that it takes three years for a new cocoa tree to bear cocoa fruit. It is difficult for farmers to think about three years with no yields.
Farmers need to know that they can replace their old trees with hybrids only if the old trees are not diseased. If the old trees are affected by cocoa swollen shoot virus, they must cut them down to avoid the virus spreading to other farms.
Farmers are also encouraged to plant seedlings of economic trees like emire, mahogany, and ofram—also known as the Ivory Coast almond—within the cocoa trees. These trees will be registered by the forestry commission so that nobody can come and cut them for timber. They provide timber to the farmer and act as permanent shade trees until they are ready for cutting and sale.
But the government stopped these timber concessions, and once you register your new trees, nobody can cut them for any reason at all. The government protects your cocoa plantation.
We also encourage farmers to do other things like rearing rabbits, grasscutters, sheep and goats; beekeeping, rearing snail, and growing mushrooms while they wait the three years to harvest their cocoa. These give them additional income during this period.
Dear farmers, according to the experts at MoFA, there are clear benefits to growing the new hybrid trees for better yields. Mr. Theophilus, how do these hybrids react to disease?
They should consider the three-year waiting period not as a fallow period, but as a time when they can grow other crops and do other businesses to sustain themselves and their families. This will make the wait less painful, and they will position themselves well for the increase in yields on their cocoa farm! Rehabilitation is surely one way to enhance cocoa productivity!
Contributed by: Abena Dansoa Danso, Media Liaison Officer and Script writer, Farm Radio International, Ghana.
Reviewed by: Samuel Amponsah, Regional Manager, Western North region, Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED), Ghana Cocoa Board.
Wikipedia. Cocoa production in Ghana. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_production_in_Ghana
Vincent Okyere Akomeah, Senior Research Manager, Ghana Cocoa Board, Accra, March, 2017.
Mr. Theophilus Osei Owusu, Deputy Director for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Accra, May, 2017 and June, 2017.
Mr. Danso Jones Godfred, Director for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Bia District, Western Region, June, 2017.