The poor handling of agro chemicals by some cocoa farmers is exposing them to danger and also putting the lives of people and animals in their communities at risk through the pollution of water bodies from which they drink.
The Bono Regional Manager of the Quality Control Company Limited of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Dr Joseph Easmon Sarfo Adu, raised the red flags, warning cocoa farmers to desist from using empty containers of pesticides and insecticides as drinking cups and containers for salt.
“The poisonous chemicals in these pesticides could cause death to humans and animals when they come into contact with food and water through improper disposal; therefore, it is dangerous to use them as household utensils,” he said.
He also asked the farmers and the various spraying gangs not to wash their spraying machines in rivers and ponds after using them since that could pollute such water bodies and kill both human beings and animals who drank from them.
Dr Adu was speaking in Sunyani after presenting assorted cocoa beverages worth GH¢3,000 and a cheque for GH¢5,000 to the Ahyiayem Queenmothers Association on behalf of COCOBOD in response to an appeal from the association.
The Ahyiayem Queenmothers Association in the Nkoranza South Municipality of the Bono East Region appealed for funds through COCOBOD to enable them to educate the youth, particularly the young girls, to refrain from indulging in social vices and stay in school to achieve higher academic laurels.
Pesticides/insecticides are poisonous
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Dr Adu urged members of the association to use their influence in the cocoa-growing areas to educate farmers on the harmful effects of the pesticides and insecticides used to treat diseases affecting cocoa trees.
He stated that since such chemicals were poisonous, they should not be kept together with foodstuffs since any spillover could be harmful to people who consumed such foodstuffs.
Dr Adu advised farmers and the spraying gangs to follow instructions provided on the labels of such chemicals to avoid poisoning themselves.
He also suggested to the cocoa farmers to patronise only insecticides and pesticides which had been approved by COCOBOD since they stood the chance of destroying their farms with chemicals which had not been certified.
Dr Adu commended the queenmothers for their interest in the proper upbringing of the youth in their area and expressed the hope that the items would motivate them to continue to provide such useful counselling programmes in the farming communities.
The President of the association, Nana Agyeiwaa Kodie, who received the donation, thanked COCOBOD for the gesture, explaining that with their meagre resources, the association had been able to champion the cause of the youth over the years.
Touching on the cocoa industry, Nana Kodie commended the government for its efforts to better the lot of farmers through the implementation of various policies to fight diseases and improve the yield of the crop.
Nana Kodie urged the farmers to embrace the best agronomic practices taught by the officials of COCOBOD since that would enable them to improve their yields and enjoy the fruits of their labour.