Boost for cocoa farming: 2 Irrigation schemes inaugurated
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has carried through its plan to make the production of cocoa all year round, with the inauguration of solar-powered irrigation schemes for two cocoa farms in the Eastern Region.
The irrigation facilities will nurse a 10-acre cocoa farm at Akyem Swedru and a 30-acre farm at Akyem Otwereso Camp, both in the Eastern Region.
A third irrigation facility is under construction at Borteykrom also in the Oda Cocoa District.
A finding of COCOBOD’s research is that with the irrigation facility, the 10-acre farm, which currently yields 70 bags (about 4.4 tonnes) of cocoa, will now yield about 300 bags (approximately 19.2 tonnes) a year. A bag weighs 64 kilogrammes.
The 10-acre cocoa farm belongs to Mr Kwabena Tawiah, while Mr Agyei Twum owns the 30-acre farm.
The Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, who inaugurated the two irrigation facilities simultaneously at a ceremony on the Akyem Swedru cocoa farm, said the initiative was to boost cocoa production in the country all year round.
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Boreholes are dug on the farms which are connected with water hoses, powered with solar to irrigate the farms.
Mr Aidoo said the facilities would be replicated in all cocoa growing areas in the country as a measure to increase the nation’s foreign exchange earnings from the cocoa industry.
He said with the availability of the irrigation facilities, the beneficiary farmers could harvest 30 bags of cocoa per acre every year.
Mr Aidoo, therefore, advised the farmers to adopt research findings such as regular clearing of weeds, pruning, removal of mistletoe, application of fertilisers and insecticides in order to obtain maximum yields from their cocoa farms.
He expressed the hope that the provision of the irrigation facility would help Mr Tawiah increase his annual production of 70 bags of cocoa from his 10-acre farm to 300 bags.
That, he said, would help enhance the incomes of farmers for the betterment of their families.
Other speakers at the function included the Special Assistant to Mr Boahen Aidoo, Mr Fiifi Boafo; the Eastern Regional Manager of COCOBOD, Mr Ebenezer Owusu Gyekye; the Oda District Cocoa Officer, Mr Michael Gyasi, and the Oda District Extension Officer of COCOBOD, Mr Foster Danquah Oyinka.
They took turns to encourage the farmers to consider the irrigation initiative and also practise sound agronomic measures on their farmers for higher yields.
Ghana is the second lead producer of cocoa in the world, with annual production averaging 850,000 tonnes.
Since peaking at one million tonnes in the 2010/11 cocoa season, cocoa production has hovered around 900,000 tonnes per annum due to what COCOBOD describes as the seasonality of the cocoa tree, rising effect of the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease (CSSVD) on output and the aging trees.
The board estimates that about 45 per cent of the national cocoa tree stock are either diseased, aged or have reached their peak period of production.
Last Wednesday, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire secured an agreement with its buyer partners to sell cocoa beans at a minimum price of $2,600.
The two countries made their case at a two-day conference in Accra that cocoa farmers who produced the valuable commodity only received about six per cent of proceeds in the cocoa value chain estimated at $100 million per annum.