Abosso Goldfields Limited (AGL) Damang Mine, through the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation (GFGF), has distributed farm inputs worth over US$ 80,000 to 360 farmers in the Prestea-Huni Valley Municipality.
The items included 407 gallons of fertilisers, 900 boxes of insecticides and 90 pieces of mist blower machines.
The gesture falls under its cocoa farmer’s support programme intended to boost cocoa production in AGL’s host communities.
Speaking at the distribution event, Mrs Catherine Kuupol Kuutor, the Acting General Manager, AGL, said the basic objectives of the programme were to select and support 120 cocoa farmers annually with the needed inputs, boost annual cocoa production of beneficiary farmers by at least three percent, and help sustain employment in cocoa production.
According to Mrs Kuutor, since 2018, a total of 600 cocoa farmers, cultivating a combined farm size of 1,200 acres, had benefitted from the programme.
She said each beneficiary farmer received support for three consecutive years before exiting to make room for a new batch of 120 farmers.
AGL had focused on agriculture, specifically, the cocoa sector and through the GFGF, the company had supported cocoa farmers in the catchment of the Mine with free cocoa inputs, she stated.
Mrs Kuutor said the initiative followed the Government’s policy reforms towards cocoa fertiliser support.
In 2021, AGL included the insecticides and fungicides based on a request by the leadership of the Damang Mine Consultative Farmer’s Association (DMCFA).
She mentioned that “each of our nine catchment communities will receive a minimum of six machines to be used by all cocoa farmers within the community and not just those who are beneficiaries of the programme.
“This approach is to encourage co-operative farming and farmer’s interdependence for technical knowledge.
“The district office of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division – COCOBOD will manage the mist blowers. This will be modelled after the government’s mass spraying and spraying gang structure to ensure proper use and maintenance of the machines,” she noted.
Since 2018, Mrs Kuutor emphasized that over US$ 265,000 had been channeled into the cocoa support programme, adding, an assessment from the first batch of beneficiaries showed a 33 percent increase in cocoa production and a seven percent increase in incomes.
She expressed the hope that the next assessment in 2023 would show even better results.
Mrs Kuutor said as part of AGL and its Foundation conscious efforts to increase women participation, 36 percent of the 360 farmers who received the inputs this year were women.
“AGL is committed to the continuous development of its catchment communities. However, we can certainly not do everything the communities would need, but we pledge to do our best in an honest and transparent manner,” she said.
Mr Michiel van der Merwe, the Acting Vice President in charge of Operations, Gold Fields, West Africa, also suggested that since land had become scarce due to population increase, farmers should embrace new technologies and innovations to maximise growth and increase production.
Dr Isaac Dasmani, the Municipal Chief Executive, Prestea Huni-Valley, encouraged the farmers to lift up their game and enhance production through new knowledge.
Nana Kwabena Amponsah IV, the Divisional Chief of Bosomtwe Divisional Area, urged the beneficiaries not to belittle themselves as farmers since they work in a sector that served as the bed-rook of the country, urged them to use the inputs to boost their productions.