Cocoa farmers in the country have been advised to be innovative and adopt best farming practices to promote increased yields.
Again, they also need to adopt interventions rolled out by the COCOBOD, including the Productivity Enhancement Programme so that they can stay in business, expand and also maintain their farms.
The Acting Regional Manager, Cocoa Health and Extension of COCOBOD for the Western and South Region, Mr Samuel Asare Ankamah, gave the advice on Wednesday, in an interview with journalists when selected cocoa farmers went on an excursion to cocoa farms within the Gold Fields Aboso Gold Limited (AGL) operational area, at Damang in the Prestea Huni-Valley Municipality of the Western Region.
The excursion, was organised by the Huni Valley Cocoa Farmers Association of the Ghana Cocoa Coffee Shea-Nut Farmers’Association for experts in the industry to interact with farmers and educate them on government’s interventions so that they could improve their cocoa production for increased yields.
Also, the programme enabled Gold Fields AGL to know whether the Cocoa Inputs Support Programme introduced to the farmers in its catchment in 2018 was yielding fruitful results.
Mr Ankamah mentioned irrigation, mass pruning, pre-hybrid seedlings, the provision of economic shade tree, CODATEC-HITEC, that is ‘mass spraying and provision of fertilisers and insecticides,’ as some of the interventions introduced to cocoa farmers.
“We are also encouraging them (farmers) to protect their farms from contracting the black pods disease; we do not treat black pods, we protect it. Whenever you see an infected black pod you have to remove it, bury them and protect the remaining pods from attracting the virus,” he said.
The cocoa health expert maintained that cocoa farming in this area had been the backbone of the region and urged the farmers to work harder for the sustainability of the industry.
Relieving Community Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Gold Fields AGL, Maud Ofosua Ofori, mentioned that Gold Fields Ghana Foundation initiated the Cocoa Input Support Programme to provide selected farmers with at least six bags each of government approved fertiliser.
In 2009, she said, 240 farmers from the mine’s operational area were supported under the programme, hinting that“each farmer will benefit from the programme for three years before exit and to date more than GH¢207, 000 has been spent on the programme.”
The aim of the programme, she added, was to assist at least 120 farmers each year to acquire approved fertilisers for their cocoa farms.
The Damang Chief Farmer, Mr Solomon Ankomah, commended Gold Fields (AGL) for supporting the farmers and urged the company to continue doing more for his group.