Solidaridad, an agro-commodity organization has begun a training programme on the use and adoption of technology to improve cocoa farming for some selected young Ghanaians.
The aim is to build the capacity and equip the beneficiaries, who were selected from cocoa growing communities, with the skills in the use of technology to provide quality agronomic services to cocoa farmers across the country.
Mr. Kwadwo Boadi Mensah, Business Incubation Officer at Solidaridad, said the objective was to increase yield and improve productivity in cocoa production.
He pointed out that the current cocoa productivity in Ghana, which stood at 400kg per hectare, could be increased to about 1,200 kg per hectare with the right cocoa seedlings, fertilizer and maintenance culture.
The beneficiaries, some of whom are cocoa farmers, were taught how to manage businesses, keep financial records, poaching investors, safe handling of pesticides, prevention of pests and diseases, identifying diseased trees and management as well as occupational safety.
He was speaking after practical field training for some of the beneficiaries at Biemso No.1, near Adugyama in the Ahafo Ano South West District of the Ashanti Region.
Mr. Mensah indicated that the training formed part of the second phase of the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP II), which seeks to resolve difficulties by creating the necessary conditions for Small and Medium Enterprises to invest in the Rural Services Centres (RSC) concept to help address some of the challenges in cocoa growing communities.
“Farmers are willing to adopt climate smart production practices but, are however constrained by age, lack of money, scarce labour, limited access to genuine farming inputs and lack of technical know-how required for this production practice”.
He said the CORIP II has established 16 Rural Services Centres designed to address some of these issues.
Mr. Mensah explained that SMEs, that were desirous of providing climate smart cocoa production services to farmers through RSCs, would be supported under CORIP II to position their businesses to attract the capital needed to make them competent providers of these services to their client farmers.
The Netherlands government is funding the CORIP II over the period of 2017-2021 in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
It is intended to benefit a total of 200,000 men, women and youth cocoa farmers and to bring a total of 210,000 hectares of cocoa farms in these countries under sustainable production.
Madam Gladys Assibey, a beneficiary and cocoa farmer from Kasapin, said the training has helped her on how to manage her own farm and that of others, which could fetch her additional income, adding that, she had become economically empowered.
She urged the youth to embrace agriculture as a business to improve their livelihoods.
Mr. Kwame Brenya, another beneficiary from Assin-Dompim, said through the training, he had been able to expand his farm size and employed more workers who assists him to work on other farms as well.
He commended Solidaridad for the training opportunity and urged it to expand it to include more people.