Cocoa farmers in the country have been urged to use only approved methods and procedures to ferment and dry harvested cocoa beans, as this would ensure its standard quality on the local and international markets.
Mr. Michael Kwabena Osei, the Obuasi District Officer of Quality Control Company (QCC) division of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), who gave the advice at a farmers’ rally, said it is imperative for all cocoa farmers, during the entire fermentation period to cover the beans with natural materials devoid of artificial chemicals.
He said the recommended organic materials are plantain and banana leaves, local baskets woven from canes and raffia, among others.
Mr. Osei addressing the rally held at Mile 9, a farming community in the Amansie Central district of the Ashanti region, advised against the use of materials such as polythene bags, mosquito nets and others for covering cocoa beans during fermentation periods.
“The practice was likely to introduce and leave traces of toxic chemical residues to contaminate the cocoa beans and it must be avoided at all cost”, he said.
Highlighting the importance of good drying procedures, he called on the farmers to ensure that they exposed every cocoa bean to sunlight, so that, all the beans were completely dry and crisp, since poor drying could lead to the formation of molds on the beans.
‘‘Cocoa beans not well dried contain moisture and when bagged, it could easily develop internal and external molds due to the heat in the bags”, Mr Osei explained.
Nana Emmanuel Ankapong, the Amansie Central district Chief Farmer, commended the Cocoa Health Extension Division(CHED) for the forum and urged the farmers to put into practice good agronomic practices, introduced to them by CHED so to boost production.
He also called on CHED to provide farmers attending rallies with gifts such as cutlasses, wellington boots and other farm inputs in order to enhance the participation of farmers in the various fora and relevant stakeholder engagements.
The rally which was organized by the Obuasi District Office of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), brought together about 120 cocoa farmers in the COCOBOD administrative districts.These are Amansie Central, Obuasi East, Obuasi Municipal, Adansi North and South districts.
The goal was to facilitate CHED’s farmers’ education on good agronomic practices such as pruning, fertilizer application, weeding and pollination, to ensure optimum yield and returns.