Cocoa farmers urged to cooperate with CSSVD officials
Mr George Asante, Eastern Regional Manager of Cocoa Services Division has called on traditional authorities to help educate cocoa farmers to allow their infested cocoa trees to be cut down for replanting. He said the affected farmers would be adequately compensated by the government in collaboration with the country’s development partners if they agreed that their infested cocoa trees be cut down for replanting. Mr Asante was addressing a rally of 300 farmers within the Suhum-Kraboa-Coaltar District at Kuano to educate them on the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) among other things. Madam Melody Aggah, Eastern Regional Extension Officer, Mr Michael Donkor, Regional Rehabilitation Officer, Mr Michael Gyasi, Suhum District Cocoa Officer and Mr Debrah Amanor, District Chief Farmer delivered lectures on Child Labour, sale and application of fertilizers, rehabilitation scheme, CODAPEC activities and CSSVD control. Mr Asante pointed out that if the affected cocoa trees were not cut down, the disease could infest other farms and the newly planted trees in their environs and this could reduce the national yield. The Regional Manager warned that poor fermentation and drying of the cocoa beans by farmers was negatively affecting the quality of the country’s cocoa on the world market and warned further that if the trend was not changed Ghana’s cocoa beans would lose its value and affect their market. Advising cocoa farmers to take steps to combat black pod fungus, Mr Asante pointed out that the government had through COCOBOD initiated a National Cocoa Diseases and PEST control (CODAPEC) programme called “Mass Spraying,” to assist all cocoa farmers to combat the capsid and the black pod diseases. Mr Donkor, who educated farmers on replanting and rehabilitation schemes, explained the various types and classes of cocoa and said the replanting project covered farms which were over-aged (30 years and above). He said; “In this regard, free seedlings, shade trees and plantain suckers shall be supplied to farmers with farm holdings of 0.50 hectors (1.25 acres and above).” He made it clear that no compensation shall be given to farmers under this project and that farmers must belong to a group in order to qualify for inputs, saying labourers have been recruited to remove mistletoes on farms free of charge. Madam Aggah stated that the new extension system involved that the Unit in collaboration with other stakeholders trained farmers on other livelihood programmes like snail farming, animal rearing, bee-keeping, gari and palm-oil processing so as to assist them during the off-seasons. The Regional Extension Officer touched on the worst forms of child labour and urged parents/farmers to only engage their children in activities that would not endanger their health, education and progress. Mr Gyasi called for the regulation and control of activities of cocoa purchasing companies with the desire to buy Not Thoroughly Dried (NTD) cocoa beans causing an increase in the stealing of cocoa beans in most cocoa growing areas. Mr Debrah Amanor, District Chief Farmer, urged his colleagues to keep to the advice given them by the cocoa extension officers on the use of the cocoa fertilizer to achieve the desired result of increased yield. Participants suggested the constant supply of protective clothing, especially nose masks and ensuring proper handling of spraying machines to help COCOBOD to achieve its target of one million metric tonnes by 2012. Others were that farmers should ensure proper fermentation of the cocoa beans and workers permanently employed to remove mistletoes on the farms.
Source: Ghana News Agency