Editorial: Misapplication of agrochemicals in cocoa production disturbing

Photo: A cocoa farmer applying chemicals to his farm. Credit: UTZ

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is gravely concerned about the misapplication of agrochemicals since the wrongful practice poses a threat to sustainable cocoa production and productivity. Cocoa farming requires the use of agrochemicals to ward off pests and provide the soil with nutrients for the healthy production of beans.

However, since agriculture extension officers are in short supply in the system, many of the farmers are left to apply these agrochemicals without proper guidance which leads to misapplication and its potential dire consequences.

This leads to low yields and high chemical residue in cocoa beans which often leads to their rejection in the international market over concerns of posing a health risk to unsuspecting consumers.

A COCOBOD Officer in charge of Sankore Cocoa District in the Ahafo Region, David Gyebi-Afriyie notes that wrongful application of insecticides and fertilizers continue to characterise the activities of some farmers, lamenting that the trend undermines efforts of COCOBOD and for that matter government, to transform cocoa production in the country and negotiate for premium prices.

Cocoa farmers do not apply pesticide on their cocoa farms at the recommended frequency of application. Furthermore, although pesticides are said to be toxic and expose farmers to risk due to the hazardous effects of these chemicals, pesticide use among cocoa farmers in Ghana is still high.

Another major concern aside the use of pesticide is the frequency of pesticide application. The farmers argue that most of them are not well informed as to the quantities of chemicals to use for a particular acre of land.

Cocoa is a national asset and has to be protected since it is the country’s major export commodity. People all over the world are now more health-conscious and are wary of chemical residue in the food chain that is why some of our cocoa beans have been rejected for having too much chemical residue.

Extension officers must be at hand to assist our cocoa farmers in applying properly agro-chemicals and at the right frequency. Over the years, the frequency of agrochemicals application, the over and underuse of pesticides and insecticides, has been the bane of cocoa production in the country.

Extension officers are best placed to instruct our farmers on good agronomic practices. There is a need to train more agriculture extension officers.

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