A total of 4, 000 hectares of cocoa farms in the Bia West District of the Western Region, are to be rehabilitated as part of an aggressive push to increase production.
This is being done under the ‘Shaded Cocoa Agroforestry Systems (SCAFS)’ Project spearheaded by the Netherlands Development Organization – SNV.
Mr. Charles Brefo-Nimo, Field Coordinator of the Project, said the goal was to help substantially improve the livelihood of farmers in cocoa growing communities.
He was speaking at the launch of a radio interactive programme for the cocoa farmers at Essam-Debiso and said in excess of 4.4 million hybrid cocoa seedlings would be planted.
The farmers would also be supplied with equal number plantain suckers together with indigenous tree species and cassava planting materials.
These, he said, were meant to bring added economic benefits to the farmers.
The project, which has been dubbed “Think smart – rehabilitate your unproductive cocoa farms” is also been supported by Cocobod, Forestry Commission, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and the district assembly.
Mr. Brefo-Nimo mentioned the other partners as Farm Radio International, an NGO, and two local radio stations – Winners FM and Vision FM.
The radio stations are providing the platform not only to educate the farmers on best practices but to also discuss solutions to challenges they might be facing.
He said since about half of the nation’s cocoa production was from this area assisting to replant overaged and disease-infected farms was a right step and made a lot of economic sense.
He added not less than 2,000 cocoa farmers were going to directly benefit.
Mr. Reuben Ottou, Project Manager for SNV, urged strong cooperation of the farmers to ensure its successful implementation to achieve the intended outcomes.
The radio interactive programme, he said was a vital component of the project as it would provide the opportunity for the farmers to bring to the fore problems they were facing for prompt redress by a team of experts, engaged as resource persons.
Mr. John Koah, District Chief Executive, spoke of the government’s determination to provide the needed incentives to boost cocoa production.
Nana Nicholas Cobbina, the Western North Chief Farmer, said the project was welcomed relief and could not have come at a better time.