A special calendar with information to guide cocoa farmers on sound farming practices they need to undertake throughout 2017 to ensure sustainable cocoa production has been launched in Accra.
The 2017 Cocoa Farmers’ Calendar, the brainchild of Mondelez International Cocoa Life Ghana programme, has specific information aimed at educating cocoa farmers on recommended farming activities to be undertaken each month for them to enhance yields and their livelihoods.
Mondelez International is the world’s largest chocolate company, with brands such as Milka, Cadbury, Toblerone and Lacta. The Cocoa Life Ghana initiative is its social intervention programme rolled out in 2008 in 100 cocoa-growing communities to boost production of the cash crop, enhance farmers’ income, encourage youth engagement in cocoa farming, among otherthingss.
Cocoa Life has since extended its reach to 446 communities in five regions where cocoa is grown in Ghana.
At a brief ceremony to launch the calendar, the Country Lead of Mondelez International Cocoa Life, Mrs Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, said the organisation’s main vision was to help farmers increase sustainable cocoa production and create thriving communities by empowering cocoa farmers.
She said the 2017 calendar was the fourth edition to be supplied to the over 25,000 cocoa farmers in the country.
Partnership with civil society
The Mondelez International Cocoa Life Programme in Ghana works in partnership with civil society and non-governmental organisations, including Child Rights International, Right to Play, World Vision, Abantu for Development and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), in the communities to achieve its objectives.
“It is about working together to create the community that cocoa farmers and their children want to live in. It is about facilitating financial security by diversifying into consistent additional income generation and wealth creation and creating a better environment for the holistic development of children in cocoa-growing areas,” she said.
Mrs Amekudzi said the cocoa farmers’ calendar was to serve as a learning tool that would complement the work of the cocoa extension agents in all the communities where Cocoa Life operated.
She said Mondelez International had so far committed $100 million towards the implementation of sustainable cocoa farming interventions in Ghana.
With a calendar which had colourful pictures on each page for the month, she said the farmers would not only follow the dates but also be reminded of critical activities that they needed to implement in the course of the year.
The calendar requires the farmers to carry out nursery in the months of January, February, October, November and December; undertake sanitary pruning in April and May and environmental management on their farms throughout the year.
Between May and December, farmers are encouraged to undertake prevention and control of the black pod disease on their farms, while they prevent and control mirids, popularly known as ‘Akate’ or capsids between August and December.
According to the calendar, cocoa farmers must undertake a farming practice known as mulching between March and May, along with shade management within the same period.
A cocoa farmer from New Juaben in the Eastern Region, Ms Gladys Bio, said the calendar had, over the years, helped her to embrace more efficient farming practices which had increased yields on her farm, as well as guaranteed her financial security.