The KUMAD Global Impact and Afarinick Plantain Nursery Company at Dadieso, is expected to produce 117 million plantain suckers next year for the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to distribute to cocoa farmers as part of the national cocoa rehabilitation programme.
The project, first of its kind in Ghana is aimed at replacing the cutting of affected cocoa trees by the swollen shoot disease with plantain suckers for a period of three years to cater for the economic livelihoods of farmers.
Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at the Plantain suckers Nursery site, Mr Beloved Mensah Dwemeku told journalists in an interview when the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahene Aidoo led officials of COCOBOD from Accra to the Nursery site.
Mr Dwemeku said the plantain nursery was situated on a-400-acre land and had produced one million plantain suckers since December 2021 and was expected to produce 32 million plantain suckers by December 2022.
He said currently,900 permanent workers were employed by the companies and projected to employ 2,000 workers by end of June 2022 as well as create indirect jobs and the multiplying effects.
Mr Dwemeku said the two companies tapped the expertise of technocrats in the Agricultural value chain employing state-of-the-art technology to bring the project on stream.
The companies therefore assured COCOBOD of their readiness to deliver the plantain suckers to support the cocoa rehabilitation programme.
He said the companies also aimed at producing other seedlings such as tree seedlings with the infrastructure at their disposal.
Mr Dwemeku disclosed that the plantain suckers were normally treated before planting to control the spread of diseases.
He said one plantain sucker could be propagated into over a hundred suckers with a minimum of 25.
The Chief Technical Officer clarified that the plantains at the nursery were not genetically modified crops as the experts were using direct solar heat, moisture, and sawdust.
Mr Dwemeku said the project was also impacting the lives of people in and around the area especially with financial support to school children who worked there during holidays.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Mr. Joseph Boahene Aidoo also told the media on the sidelines that the planting of plantain suckers on cocoa farms as part of cocoa rehabilitation and enhancement Programmes, followed an intervention by the government and COCOBOD to salvage cocoa farms affected by the swollen shoot disease some few years ago after cutting affected trees down.
He said the plantain provided temporal shade for the cocoa trees to grow and flourish.
Mr Aidoo said COCOBOD decided to design a technology to remove all the diseases before planting “and this company came in to deploy all the knowledge they have.”
The CEO described as amazing, the companies ingenious act to propagate one plantain sucker into about 100 suckers.
Mr. Aidoo added that “instead of the farmer going to plant one plantain sucker in a hole, we can get 100 or more with a minimum of 25.
The CEO disclosed that farmers were happy with the plantation nursery due to the benefits derived from the plantain farms.