Social network to inform and prevent the spread of cocoa swollen shoot virus disease in Ghana
The cocoa swollen shoot virus disease is a major factor limiting cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) productivity for West African farmers. The only treatment against this disease is to cut infected trees and replant with disease-free planting material. Research has recommended the prevention measures: (i) cordon sanitaire (leaving 10-m-wide cocoa-free zone around cocoa), (ii) barrier cropping, (iii) using partly tolerant hybrids, and (iv) removing specific alternative host tree species. Here, we evaluate the current adoption of these measures and identify their adoption constraints. We conducted a quantitative survey with 396 farmers in the Eastern and Western Regions of Ghana, held six focus group discussions and hosted a multi-stakeholder validation workshop with 31 key actors in the cocoa value chain. Our results indicate that the adoption of prevention measure against the disease remains limited. Farmers with a more extensive social network (number of family members/close friends who already adopted a particular measure), a larger farm size, more secure land tenure rights, and more knowledge about the measures were more likely to adopt them, especially barrier cropping, hybrid seedlings, and removing alternative host trees. Lack of knowledge about the measures was the single biggest barrier for their adoption, with 51% of the participating farmers not even being aware of any prevention measures. Here, we show for the first time that the social network is the main information source for farmers, which agrees with the finding that the flow of information between farmers and other stakeholders is a critical factor affecting knowledge spread and consequently adoption. Our results provide crucial insights for the elaboration of an implementation action plan to boost the dissemination of feasible prevention measures against the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease in Ghana in order to efficiently cover farmers’ needs for information (technical advice) and inputs (access to hybrid seedlings).
KeywordsTheobroma cacao Cocoa swollen shoot virus disease Cordon sanitaire Barrier cropping Hybrids Adoption Social network Knowledge Farm size Land tenure
We wish to express our gratitude to the Executive Director of CRIG, Dr. Franklin Amoah, for his continuous support, especially in the coordination of the workshop. Our sincere acknowledgements go to the District Officers and Field Assistants of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) for their vital support in carrying out the farmer survey and the focus group discussions. Thanks to Brigitte Cuendet for critical thoughts and hospitality. We further acknowledge Samuel Oduro for assistance in translation and helping with the workshop. Finally, we extend our gratitude to all the participants of the validation workshop and to all the participating farmers for their precious time and invaluable comments on the topic.
This study was funded by the E4D scholarship program of ETH Global (funded by the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development), and by the Fonds “Welternährungssystem” of the World Food System Center at ETH Zurich.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The sponsors have no role in study design, data collection, analysis or interpretation, report writing and submission.
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