The disease-resistant and high-yielding capacity seedlings have a maturing period of one and a half to two years, compared to the previous ones that had about five years fruiting period.
The seedlings, which are being raised in 650 nursery sites for free distribution, will be given to farmers working on new farms as well as those working on rehabilitated farms for the 2022/2023 crop season.
The initiative is to boost the country’s cocoa production and replace about 40 per cent of its overaged and tree crops affected by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD).
Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa-producing country, produced a record 1.033 million tonnes of beans for the 2020/2021 season, an improvement on the previous record of 1.024 million tonnes in the 2010/2011 season.
In addition to the cocoa seedlings, SPD is raising 630,000 coffee seedlings to diversify the country’s tree production, and shift from depending on cocoa as the major trading commodity.
It is to also meet the growing demand for the products on the market, particularly by the Coffee Federation of Ghana – private value chain players consisting of farmers, producers, processors, exporters, and consulting companies.
Mrs Faustine Asemany, Executive Director, SPD, explained that the seedlings took three to four months to germinate, and had a production capacity of 1,000 kilogrammes per hectare.
She said this during a field trip to the Apedwa, Bonsu, and New Tafo stations in the Eastern Region on Thursday.
“Farmers were hitherto using Amelonado cocoa. It took over five to seven years to start production, and we have the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), which has done research into cocoa production and has come out with hybrids that will take two years to fruit,” she said.
She added that: “For that matter, SPD was established to see to the planting material needs to multiple and distribute these planting materials to farmers, and we’re poised over the years in doing this to increase production.”
The Executive Director indicated that the SPD was working to add 12 other cocoa stations in four years, to produce planting materials at cost-effective prices for farmers.
She said SPD had started the processes of establishing those 12 stations, including the acquisition of lands, and testing of lands for cocoa growing viability, and would complete the process with payment of compensation to landowners.
Dr Alex Oppong Dwapanyin, Regional Manager for Eastern, Volta, and Oti Regions, COCOBOD, said the country had the capacity to increase its cocoa yields while diversifying the tree crop sector with coffee.
He stated that the Apedwa cocoa station for example had a total land area of about 107 hectares, out of which 42 hectares had been developed and being utilized.
“The rest are being developed gradually. It’s a center of active COCOBOD work and as we have here, we have the seed gardens where we produce hybrid cocoa seedlings,” he said.
With more than 10,000 seedlings ready for planting from the three stations in the Eastern Region, Mr Dwapanyin, urged farmers to visit the respective centres to register and have the seedlings for free.