Mr. Tony Lass, a renowned cocoa researcher based in the UK, says Ghana should jealously guard the process for growing, fermenting and drying its cocoa – as the country’s produce has a global reputation that is next to none.
“The Ghana cocoa has built its reputation globally and is next to none. The global cocoa commodities market is built on trust. Ghana must jealously guard and protect the crop’s reputation as an asset,” he said.
Mr. Lass, making a presentation in Accra at the 80th Anniversary Lecture of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) under the theme Innovative Research for National Development, commended Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for sustaining the crop’s trust on the global commodities market.
The challenges of the country’s cocoa industry, according to Mr. Lass, will be greater in the coming years as cocoa-farmers age and affect production volumes.
“My fear is that at the moment cocoa farming is not attractive to the Ghanaian youth, because it involves traditional farming practices,” he said.
Professor Yaw Ahenkorah, Professor of Soil Chemistry and Fertility at the University of Ghana, explained that cocoa research has become a necessary input for producing countries development programme, and that countries like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Malaysia, Brazil, Indonesia and Nigeria have their cocoa research facilities.
He indicated that the biological problems of cocoa production which have caused low yields are persistent pest, disease and parasitic – with problems arising from inadequate crop management.
“Good yields are possible with good management research,” he said.
He noted that there are capsids and shield bugs, the diseases are black pods caused by fungi, swollen shoot virus.
Ghanaian cocoa farmers are very familiar with dominant pests and diseases and have received information from Cocoa Extension officers about the respective control methods, but most of the farmers do not adhere to the recommended control measures.
Thus, he said, the farmers usually attribute it to their inability to meet the high financial cost involved in the cultural and maintenance practices of cocoa farms.
He strongly recommend immediate action by government through COCOBOD to deal with problems affecting the linkages between cocoa research and development systems and the industry sector; or handle the entire problem between research and development industry for the nation.
“For example, the CSIR has developed posolina for the building industry – yet there has been no commercial utilisation of the product. In fact, there are many such innovations from ‘CRlG and CSIR awaiting commercial adoption for improved and rapid development of the nation.
“CRIG’s role in development, implementation and participation in the cocoa ‘Hi-Tech’ programme speaks volumes for the importance of cocoa research input in the innovative development of Ghana,” he stated.
Professor Stephen Adei, Dean of Arts and Science at Ashesi University, commending CRIG indicated that the Institute has played a pivotal role in control of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD), control of Capsids by spraying them with insecticides, and control of black pod diseases – a trinity that could have wiped out the cocoa industry in the country at any time.
He added that CRIG has been instrumental in producing early-bearing and high-yielding cocoa varieties, indicating that the Institute has helped to bring understanding to the relationship between managing cocoa shade, nutrition or the right application of fertilisers and yield, which has brought tremendous advantages to farmers in terms of output and incomes.
“The good job of CRIG has brought better understanding between cocoa fermentation and flavour chemistry.
“CRIG has researched into new products and by-products of not only the cocoa bean but also the husks or waste which hitherto were either thrown away or burned to ashes as an ingredient to produce local soap. Today we have cocoa jam, soap, butter – and all kinds of cocoa powder for beverages and animal feed,” he said.