Ghana Cocoa Board encourages farmers to take hand pollination seriously

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The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has encouraged farmers in cocoa growing areas across the country to take hand pollination seriously to increase yield. 

This is in fulfilment of COCOBOD’s goal of encouraging and facilitating the production of quality cocoa beans in the country, while ensuring that farmers earned more from the produce.

Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), COCOBOD, said active hand pollination, and good agronomic practices like pruning and organic fertiliser application, would significantly improve crop yields.

He said this at the launch of the 2024 national hand pollination programme at Nzema Ainyinasi in the Western South Region, over the weekend, after visiting some farms and held durbar for more than 3,000 farmers in four days.

The hand pollination programme is aimed at educating and encouraging farmers to practice the transfer of pollen from a male flower to a female flower of another cocoa tree, using the hand, rather than allowing insects to do so.

“Now that prices are good on the international market, what’s needed is more yields to make farmers benefit. That’s why we’ve deliberately come up with the hand pollination programme. So, all cocoa farmers should embrace it,” said, Mr Boahen Aidoo.

He stated that the average yield of farmers stood at between five to eight bags per hectare, instead of the 20 to 30 bags per hectare that had been evidenced in some farms in the Western South Region through hand pollination.

“Ordinarily, if you allow even pruned farms to fruit on their own, for the natural insects to do the pollination, you may end up getting about five to eight bags per hectare, but some farmers were producing between 20 bags and 30 bags per hectare. that’s where we want all our farmers to get to,” he said.

“Today, some cocoa trees are fruiting more than 2,000 fruits. They’re some with cherries of up to 3,000. We want as many farmers as possible to adopt hand pollination techniques,” he added.

He encouraged farmers to see cocoa farming, not only as a way of life, but a business, and put in more efforts in its management, including injecting investment in it to reap better results.

The COCOBOD CEO also urged farmers to regularly trim their cocoa trees to prevent their farms looking dumpy and a conducive environment for diseases and pests attack.

He recommended the use of motorised slashers and pruners, which would enable the cocoa tree to have more sunlight and air, enabling the trees to produce more fruits.

Mr Boahen Aidoo asked farmers to stop the use of cocktail chemicals – the practice of mixing insecticides, fungicides to spray farms, rather, use poultry manure to improve soil nutrients to support higher yields of produce.

Nana Amoako, the 2021 national best cocoa farmer, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said, “I didn’t join the hand pollination programme in 2017, but since I understood and started practicing, it has increased my yields.”

“When you effectively practice hand pollination, you can get at least, 20 bags of cocoa per hectare,” he said.

A youth farmer at Bompieso in the Western South Region, Kwame Alex, also said, a three-year education and assistance from extension officers made him to master hand pollination, making him produce and earn more from cocoa.

He noted that prior to practicing hand pollination, he used to produce about 500 to 600 bags of cocoa from the 130-hectare out of a total of 160-hectare farm, annually.

“… but as I speak with you, I have about 3,250 bags of cocoa from my farm. So, I urge other cocoa farmers to be serious with hand pollination, prune their farms and use organic manure,” he said.

Meanwhile, during the field visit, farmers asked COCOBOD to prioritise the construction of roads to cocoa farms, most of which were in deplorable states, and assist them in getting money from financial institutions to support their work.

Responding to the concerns, Mr Boahen Aidoo said with the completion of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme, some fiscal space had been created to enable COCOBOD renegotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

That, he said, would enable COCOBOD contract loans, in addition to exploring other sources of funding to shape bad roads to support the carting of cocoa from the farm to the market.

By Francis Ntow

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