Cocoa farmers have been urged to be innovative and adopt best farming practices to increase yield production.
Also, they should adapt to interventions rolled out by Cocobod, such as the Productivity Enhancement Programme, so they can stay in business and expand as well as maintain their farms.
Mr. Samuel Asare Ankamah, Acting Regional Manager of Cocoa Help and Extension of Cocobod Western/South Region, said this in an interview with the media during an excursion to selected farms within the Gold Fields Aboso Gold Limited (AGL) operational area at Damang, in the Prestea Huni-Valley Municipality of the Western Region.
The excursion was organised by the Huni Valley Cocoa Farmers Association of the Ghana Cocoa Coffee Shea-Nut Farmers’ Association; the aim was for experts in the industry to interact with farmers and get them to learn about some of the interventions put in place by government, so they can take advantage for their cocoa production to increase yields.
Also, the excursion was for Gold Fields AGL to get know if the Cocoa Inputs Support Programme introduced to farmers in its catchment during 2018 is yielding fruitful results in terms of production.
Mr. Ankamah mentioned irrigation, mass pruning, pre-hybrid seedlings and provision of economic shade-trees as well as CODATEC-HITEC’s ‘mass-spraying and provision of fertiliser and insecticide’ as some of the interventions introduced to cocoa farmers.
“We are also encouraging them to protect their farms from contracting black-pod disease; with black-pod we do not treat it, we protect: whenever you see infected black-pods you have to remove and bury them, and protect the remaining pods so they cannot attract the virus,” he said.
He pointed out that cocoa farming in this area has been the region’s backbone, and urged the farmers to work harder for the industry’s sustainability.
Maud Ofosua Ofori, Relieving Community Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Gold Fields AGL, mentioned that Gold Fields Ghana Foundation initiated the Cocoa Input Support Programme to provide selected farmers with at least six bags each of government-approved fertiliser.
In 2009, she said, 240 farmers from the mine’s operational area were supported under the programme.
“Each farmer will benefit from the programme for three years before exit, and to date over GH¢207,000 has been spent on the programme,” she said.
The aim of the programme, she explained, is to assist at least 120 farmers each year to acquire approved fertilisers for their cocoa farms.
Also, it is to boost annual cocoa production in the host communities by 10% in three years, and to help create and sustain employment in the area of cocoa production.
Again, it is to establish the fact that mining can co-exist with farming as well as strengthen social licence.
She added that beneficiary farmers of this programme are already enjoying benefits in the space of two years.
“We encourage all farmers to take advantage of the support programme, as well as other extension services provided by the agriculture ministry to enhance production on their farms,” she said.
Mr. Soloman Amkomah, Damang Chief Farmer, commended Gold Fields AGL for supporting the farmers and urged it to continue trying to do more.