Management of COCOBOD says it will soon launch a motorized pruner and cocoa irrigation project, to improve quality yields and help farmers make more money without expanding their farms.
The Deputy CEO of COCOBOD in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control, Dr. Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh, says efforts are underway to engage and attract the attention of cocoa farmers.
He was speaking to Citi Business News on the sidelines of a sod cutting ceremony for the construction of the first ever Cocoa Flavour Laboratory and a 100 seater Quality Training Centre at Akyem Tafo CRIG.
“When the yield is increasing and the farmer is making more profit, certainly he or she will still remain in the business of cocoa. So we have brought in a number of interventions. One of them is pruning. Pruning is a cultural practice that every farmer is supposed to undertake. But what we have realized is that for years they have not been doing it and even if they have to do it, they use machetes. But now we have realized that we cannot continue the old way of farming, so we have brought in a motorized pruner which we will launch soon. It is going to help farmers in pruning. When you prune, what happens is that the cocoa environment changes. There is inflow of air, ventilation is increased and incidence of diseases is also reduced. Then at the same time trees are able to flower more. When there is more flower we can pollinate” he said.
Illegal mining in cocoa growing areas
On the upsurge in illegal mining activities in cocoa growing communities, Dr. Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh said management of COCOBOD will continue to educate farmers in cocoa growing areas not to sell off farms to both licensed and illegal miners.
“We’re very worried about the development with these ‘galamseyers’ and what we are currently doing is that we are trying our best to engage the farmers, educate them on the importance of keeping their cocoa farms because if you allow someone to buy your piece of land with cocoa on it and the person gives you say Ghc10,000 cedis, in no time you will spend this money, meanwhile the land is completely gone, the trees are gone; but with these interventions that we are doing, the farmer can stay on the land for a long time and benefit from the cocoa” he noted.
Dr. Dwomoh who called on cocoa farmers to also support the irrigation project which will be rolled out this year, said all these interventions are to help farmers increase their productivity.
“The whole idea is that we don’t want farmers to be expanding their farms, we don’t want them to venture into forest areas so what we are saying is that on the same piece of land the farmer can do what we call vertical productivity, when you subject farm to all these practices the farmer can increase his or her yields without expanding the farm itself. We have also brought in irrigation too because there are times around November December entering January March, when we sometimes experience dry spells and this affects production so we have started this pilot irrigation project which will be rolled out this year to support farmers to get them hooked on this irrigation, so that at a point when rain is not falling these farmers can rely on the irrigation system to be in business”.
“We are also continuing with the pest and diseases control program and application of subsidized fertilizers for farmers, and all these are being done with the hope that we can increase the productivity of the farmers” he added.