Ghana will from this year introduce human pollinators in its cocoa industry to enhance yields, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) announced late Tuesday.
Joseph Boahen Aidoo said through hand pollination, the country would be able to reverse the long period of low crop yields being experienced by farmers.
Addressing the media, Aidoo pointed out that whereas in some countries including Malaysia, cocoa yield was as much as two tonnes per hectare, Ghana, the second largest producer after Cote d’Ivoire, recorded a yield of 0.45 tonnes per hectare, a situation which needed to be reversed.
According to him, the effect of application of agro-chemicals was that there was a drop in the natural pollinators on the farms hence the low yield.
As part of the steps to increase cocoa yield, the CEO said 7,000 personnel were being recruited to form the hand pollination crew that would apply pollen materials directly into the cocoa flowers across the country for increased yield.
“We are targeting to record about 100 pods to 50 pods per cocoa tree compared to the 25 pods to 30 pods per tree we record currently,” he projected.
Aidoo said about 23 percent of Ghana’s cocoa tree stock, covering some 411,000 hectares, had become unproductive due to their old age, and funds were being sought to rehabilitate them.
As part of efforts to achieve the production target of 1 million tonnes of cocoa by 2020, the CEO said irrigation would be introduced in the cocoa industry to provide sufficient moisture for cocoa trees.
Another challenge which affected Ghana’s cocoa production over the past few years was that 17 percent of all the tree stock were attacked by viral diseases but the CEO said a spraying gang would be formed nationwide to spray all cocoa farms.
“An increased yield will not only help retain existing farmers on the job but will also make cocoa farming once more attractive for the youth to take up as a profession. We want to make sure we have more youth in cocoa farming,” Aidoo added.
Aidoo said although world market prices for cocoa were unfavorable, the regulator would not reduce the current producer price for farmers. Enditem