Solar irrigation technology introduced for cocoa production

BY: News Desk Report
Mr Francis Lanquaye (3rd left) explaining to farmers how the technology has improved his cocoa produce.  With him are Mrs Yaa Amekudzi (middle) and other farmers
Mr Francis Lanquaye (3rd left) explaining to farmers how the technology has improved his cocoa produce. With him are Mrs Yaa Amekudzi (middle) and other farmers

A new technology designed to supply continuous water to local cocoa farms throughout the year to mitigate the effects of climate change on cocoa production in Ghana has been launched.

The Solar Drift Irrigation System — being introduced by Mondelez International, implementors of the Cocoa Life Programme — is also intended to triple the country’s annual cocoa yield.

It is designed to supply consistent water to the cocoa farms of the over 70,000 farmers operating under the Cocoa Life Programme.

With this technology, cocoa farmers will be able to produce throughout the season and will not have to wait for rainfall to determine their annual yields.

At the inauguration of the first pilot project of the technology at Otwebediedua in the Eastern Region, the Head of Cocoa Life in Ghana, Mrs Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, said the new technology would ensure that cocoa got the required litres of water needed for high yields throughout the year.

The technology

The technology has three components — boreholes that serve as the water source, solar power generation, and drips to supply the water to the farms.

Mrs Amekudzi explained that the latest technology would help resolve the erratic and unpredictable rainfall which continued to affect cocoa production in the country.

“As an organisation committed to helping cocoa farmers to benefit from their work and also ensure sustainability, we decided to undertake a research on how other countries were able to generate enough water supply for their cocoa production.

“The research led to the discovery of the Solar Drift Irrigation System which has the capacity to supply 5,000 litres of water hourly,” she explained.

Pilot project

Mrs Amekudzi indicated that the pilot programme of the irrigation technology would cover 10 farms within the six regions where Cocoa Life operated.

"In all, we operate in 700 communities spread in 18 districts within six regions of Ghana," she said.

Mrs Amekudzi said Mondelez International would continue to support cocoa farmers to become businessmen and businesswomen, and ultimately improve their wellbeing.

She added that given the policies that the Ghana Cocoa Board was currently implementing, along with the support by the private sector and cocoa farmers, “Ghana can achieve one million metric tonnes of cocoa annually".

A technical aide and member of the research team at Mondelez International, Mr Edward Kumah, said cocoa needed about 30 litres of water per day, and if the water requirements was achieved, it would yield throughout the year.

"When farmers purchase fertilisers and it doesn’t rain, it would affect their production and ultimately their return on the investment," he said.

Farm owner

The owner of a pilot farm, Mr Francis Oko Lanquaye, described the new technology as efficient, indicating that since it was installed, it had trippled his annual cocoa production.

"With this new technology, I do not have to worry about adequate water for my cocoa trees," Mr Lanquaye said.