A training programme in good agricultural practices, agroforestry, integrated pest management and good environmental practices, was on Friday held for cocoa farmers at Essiama in the Ellembelle District of the Western Region.
It was to also educate farmers on post-harvest management and forest protection and restoration to help them produce cocoa sustainably, obtain higher cocoa yield per unit area, increase income and livelihood and for cocoa farmers to understand the importance of protecting the forest and the environment in combating climate change which has adverse effects on farming activities.
It was organised by the Cocoa Sustainability Initiatives and Inputs and Certification Unit (ICU) of the Produce Buying Company Limited (PBC).
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PBC in charge of Operations, Mr Alfred Ofori Annye, assured cocoa farmers that the company had not collapsed, and explained that PBC was going through some financial challenges for the past five years.
He told the cocoa farmers that the government had however, provided financial support to PBC for the purchase of cocoa in October, this year, adding that “ Documentations are ongoing in anticipation of government’s financial support in first week of October, 2019.”
Mr Annye assured cocoa farmers that “PBC is going to purchase cocoa this October.”
“The president has come to the rescue of PBC with a bail out and we are back. Farmers should not lose confidence in us; people will come and say we have collapsed and so give us your cocoa to buy. They should not lose hope; we are going together with our farmers.” he said.
According to him, the training programme was an ongoing activity and would be implemented in other cocoa districts to help achieve Ghana’s cocoa production target, improve farmer livelihood, protect the forest and restore degraded farming lands.
Already, the PBC, he said, had organised similar programmes at Konongo in the Ashanti Region, benefitting about 4,000 cocoa farmers.
According to Mr Annye, yields in the Western and the Western North had gone down and therefore, urged farmers to cut down ill-health cocoa trees, plant new ones with the new technologies to increase their yields.
The Project Development Manager, PBC, Mr Samuel Amissah, told the Ghanaian Times that the programme aimed at increasing yields of farmers which had drastically gone down to about three bags per acre instead of about 16 to 20 bags due to the poor health of cocoa trees and black pods diseases.
“We will continue to give training for cocoa farmers to grow their farms and increase their yields,” he added.
CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, ESSIAMA