The introduction of various agronomic interventions by the government is helping to bring tremendous increase in crop yields per acre on cocoa farms.
Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive of COCOBOD, said last year saw the introduction of the mass pruning of cocoa farms, hand pollination, mass spraying and right application of fertilizers to the tree crop among other things.
This, he said, had helped farmers to harvest not less than 20 bags of cocoa per acre this year, as against the three bags they had been harvesting over the years.
Speaking to journalists after touring some cocoa farms in the northing part of the Western Region, he said the government was spending over GH¢300 million on the initiatives every season to ensure that the country achieved the one million tonnes target of cocoa production.
Mr Aidoo is on a two-day working visit to some farms in the region to get first-hand information of the combined effects of the various best practices introduced last year and also check on what was left to be done as well as the way forward for farmers.
He toured some farms in Bibiani, Chirano, Debiso, Anhwiaso, Awaso and Bekwai.
Mr. Aidoo pointed out that, his visits to cocoa farms in other parts of the country indicated that, the hand pollination exercise, for instance, was helping farmers to increase pods on trees, while the spraying and pruning were preventing insects from destroying the cocoa beans.
“All farms visited had witnessed higher yields last year, our intention is to improve productivity and income of farmers with this hand pollination programme”, he explained.
The Chief Executive was optimistic that the falling price of cocoa on the international market would not affect Ghanaian farmers greatly since they were increasing production.
“The current price stands at ¢2,080 per tonne, and even if it continues to reduce, our farmers will be harvesting more bags, having higher yields to complement their income and will be better off anytime”, he assured.
He pledged the commitment of management to continually strengthen the Cocoa Diseases and Pest Control Programme (CODAPEC) to help reduce destruction in cocoa farms and make cocoa farming a lucrative business to attract the youth.
Mr. Gilbert Gyamprah, a farm Manager, who spoke to the GNA at Chirano said the introduction of the hand pollination had tremendously boosted crop yield per acre in his farm.
According to him, he used to harvest less than 8 bags per acre but now he had been harvesting 25 bags and hope to harvest over 30 bags per acre this year.
The hand pollination had led to an increase in the pods a single cocoa tree bears at a time, thus, per the COCOBOD’s estimation, a single tree could give a farmer almost 32 kilos of cocoa which is half of a bag.