Cocoa farmers in cocoa growing communities are still using unapproved pesticides on their farms, despite the availability of substances approved by COCOBOD to cover two million hectares of cocoa farms in the country, an ongoing research has revealed.
The research, however, blamed the use of these unapproved pesticides to the absence of cocoa input shops in the cocoa farming communities, but stated that “the genuine shops are only available in the cocoa district capitals”.
The research showed, 80 per cent of local agro-input shops sampled had no COCOBOD approved pesticides on sale, but rather sold pesticides which were not registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or by COCOBOD such as “Akate suro”, “So bi hwe”, “akate” and “anonom” and pictures of blackpod infected cocoa pods as a decoy to sell.
Presenting highlights of the research at a roundtable discussion in Accra, on pesticide use in agriculture production landscape, especially cocoa production in Ghana, the leader of a team of researchers, Kofi Appoh, said the research which began in August last year, was conducted in 59 cocoa districts in Ashanti, Western, Bono, Ahafo, Eastern and Central regions.
He said that 600 farmers were interviewed, comprising of 418 males and 182 females, 20 focus group discussions which had 10 farmer groups, and 10 spraying gang groups as well as 20 key informant interviews, including agro-input shop and Cocoa Health and Extension Department (CHED) staff.
According to Mr Appoh, the EPA in February 2017 registered a total of 569 pesticides, comprising of 204 insecticides and 74 fungicides, while in May 2018, a total of 46 pesticides, comprising of 33 insecticides and 13 fungicides were recommended for use on cocoa by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) and the COCOBOD.
He said, “Counterfeit pesticides are also common in our markets and repackaging openly done in places such as the Kejetia market thereby coming out with some con names that our farmers get attracted to.”
Mr Appoh said farmers look out for COCOBOD approved pesticides, especially those used by Cocoa Pests and Disease Control (CODAPEC) programme, but noted that “when you go to the agrochemical shops you do not find them”.
He suggested that COCOBOD approved pesticides must be readily available in local agro-input shops to reduce the risk of applying unapproved pesticides.
The Director for Cocoa Pest and Disease Control (CODAPEC) programme, Dr Gilbert Anim-Kwapong, said, “We have chemicals to cover two million hectares for capsids and 1.4 million hectres for blackpod”.
He said due to the acquisition of the chemicals, farmers were not expected to purchase fungicides or any other chemical to spray their farms, adding that farmers were to compliment the chemical control measure with cultural control practices such as weeding, pruning, shade adjustments and removal of all diseased pods.
“We realised that the farmers were not following the instructions they were encouraged to because either they were not using the chemicals or they were using unapproved chemicals but eventually most farmers rely mostly on COCOBOD,” Dr Anim Kwapong stated.
BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU
CAPTION: Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, COCOBOD CEO