Media educated on COCOBOD farmer-friendly interventions

0
255

The Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of Ghana Cocoa Board, (COCOBOD), in collaboration with Goshen Global Vision, an NGO, has engaged about twenty media houses across the Western-South Region to educate them on COCOBOD farmer-friendly interventions. 

The move is to recognize the role the media played in educating cocoa farmers to understand such programmes.

Speaking at the engagement to media men and women who have special interest in cocoa production in the country at Tarkwa, Western-South Manager, Mr Samuel Osei expressed concern about the decline in cocoa production in the Western-South Region.

He said from a peak of 284,000 metric tonnes in 2020/2021 season where Ghana recorded an unprecedented production volume of 1,047,000 metric tonnes, Western-South alone contributed about 27%, which was very phenomenal.

The Manager said for the past eleven years, average cocoa production of the Region stood at 231,000 metric tonnes, but recent developments such as heightened activities in illegal mining had further reduced production.

Mr Osei indicated that an estimated 5,000 hectares of cocoa farms had been lost to illegal mining activities, affecting the production potential in the Western-South Region.

Besides, the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease has affected over 100,000 hectares of farms in the Western-South Region alone out of the 590,000 hectares lost nationally under the Swollen Shoot Virus Disease.

He underscored the negative effect of smuggling of dried cocoa beans through the Western border to neighbouring La Cote D’Ivoire, which peaked during the 2022/2023 and the current 2023/ 2024 seasons, due to price differential at the onset of the season and activities of those who sold at the black market to take advantage of the spot price unlike Cocobod’s forward sales mechanism which ensured guaranteed producer price.

The Manager said climate change had also worsened the situation, culminating in excessive rainfall pattern of high intensity and long duration leading to flooding in some cocoa growing districts such as Elubo and Gwira.

The same phenomenon has also led to the El – Nino Weather effects with extreme temperatures causing significant stress and wilting of many cocoa trees and further catalysing the declining production in the Region.

The Manager highlighted the scarcity of labour for cocoa farming activities due to the high interest of the youth in illegal mining activities and urged the media to help educate all and sundry about the negative effects of galamsey on the environment, human health and overall negative consequences on the economy so that, the youth would come back to work in the cocoa ecosystem space.

The Regional Manager said with the introduction of cooperative led Mass Cocoa Pruning this year, being supported by the Mass Sprayers workforce and provision of standard pruning saws by Cocobod Management, Cocobod was looking forward to pruning all productive cocoa, about 200,000 ha in the Region for enhanced production this year.

He called on the media to support CHED to let farmers appreciate that, pruning was the first agronomic activity that unlocked the potential of the cocoa trees to flower and with the special package to spray every pruned farm with effective foliar fertilisers six times for every cocoa farmer from May to July,

He explained that by using bi-weekly application interval, the flowers would be sustained and developed into cherelles and under the reinvigorated spraying regime, the pods would be protected for higher productivity per unit area.

Mr Osei said the cost of the application of the foliar fertilisers were also borne by Cocobod and all that cocoa farmers were to do was to fetch water for the spraying teams to spray the foliar fertilisers for them following a dedicated timetable at the community levels.

He again explained that because the Mass Sprayers were supporting the pruning exercise, the first round of insecticidal application which commenced in April and ends in May would be done by the Cooperatives, Groups and Association after Cocobod had provided the various cooperatives and groups with insecticides and premixed fuel support.

The manager pointed out that same arrangement would be done for the fungicidal application first round in June and July 2024.

He charged all cooperatives, groups and associations (CAGs) leaders to ensure chemicals were not shared but used for spraying the farms.

Mr Osei said his outfit would follow up on all chemicals issued to the CAGs to ensure they were used according to the instructions and established protocols.

He further sensitised the press about the Traceability System put in place to ensure no person diverts or steals any chemical meant for cocoa farmers.

The Manager said the Region had targeted that each acre of cocoa farm must produce a minimum of 10 bags of cocoa this season and that was the basis for Agenda Restoration (AgRes – 300 K!), which aims to increase production of the Region from the 152,000 metric tonnes in 2022/2023 to 300,000 metric tonnes by 2024/2025.

He said if cocoa farmers and other key stakeholders sustain the education on poultry manure application and adoption of cocoa hand pollination, the Region’s committed vision of 300,000 metric would become a reality within the timelines.

Mr Osei said all field staff of the Division shared this vision and called on all cocoa farmers to come on board to adopt these supported interventions (Pruning, Foliar & Inducers, Fertilisers Application, Poultry Manure Application, Hand Pollination and Crop Protection) for enhanced cocoa production and benefit from the good international cocoa price being experienced due to the scarcity of the chocolate commodity.

The manager urged the media to support the realisation of the ideals and objectives of Agenda Restoration (AgRes – 300 K!) through effective education and sensitisation of cocoa farmers in the Region, which would ultimately lead to improvement in the livelihoods of the numerous cocoa farmers and their dependents in the Region.

By P.K. Yankey, GNA

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here