Motorised pruners and slashers for cocoa farming in the country have been launched here in Nkawie in the Ashanti Region.
The launch, which is in line with government and Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD)’s resolve to revamp the cocoa sector, implies that the era of machetes is getting over.
As compared to traditional manual pruning, the motorised device, with multi-purpose functions, weeding and pruning, ensures higher efficiency, as it can prune a hectare of land within two hours.
About 100,000 pruners and slashers have been procured by the government for mass pruning exercise, the first in the history of Ghana.
At the launch of the device on Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen-Aidoo, called on any cocoa farmer who is not with any farmer co-operative to do so because “the equipment will be used by farmer co-operatives.”
He said for two years, all expenses on pruning and slashing would be borne by the COCOBOD.
However, he pointed out that individual cocoa farmers could purchase the device on credit at the cost of GH¢5,000.00.
The CEO reiterated the call on the ban of weedicide and asked cocoa farmers to embrace the innovation for effective and efficient pruning to be done.
Mr Boahen-Aidoo indicated that for the first time in Ghana, COCOBOD and La Cote D’Ivoire have been able to dictate the price of cocoa to the international market, “and this initiative was led by Ghana.”
He said now, “every tonne of cocoa from Ghana or La Cote D’Ivoire attracts US$ 400 in addition to the terminal market price, and this goes straight to the cocoa farmer.”
The CEO asked all and sundry to commend the government not only for the equipment to boost cocoa production but also for the introduction of the hand pollination programme “which is increasing cocoa yield.”
Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in a speech read by his deputy, Dr Nura Gyiele, said “whatever we are doing as government is for the farmers.”
He said government would leave no stone unturned and no hurdle untackled in the pursuit of a modernised agricultural sector.
“The transformation that we are witnessing,” he said, “is not restricted to the cocoa sub-sector only, but all other sectors in agriculture are witnessing similar transformations.”
Encouraging cocoa farmers to take ownership of the programme and provide COCOBOD with all the needed support and cooperation to make the innovation another success, Dr Akoto said “the notion that this is for government should not be allowed.”
FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, NKAWIE