The Secretary of the Buamaduse Youth Farmers Association (BYFA), Mr Elijah Kofi Agyemang, has called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to pay attention to the low level of cocoa productivity in the country.
With cocoa being the backbone of the economy, he said it was very necessary for the government to put in place effective measures to address the declining production levels.
In an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, Mr Agyemang said the production of cocoa in the country served as a major source of employment and also helped in financing basic social amenities in many farming communities.
He said the crop was also a source of livelihood to many farmers, as well as a major export commodity for the country.
“Cocoa is very important that most people depend on it solely for living. These farmers help the country with this commodity which industry players should support in every way possible”, he stated.
Available data indicate that the country closed its 2016/2017 crop year with total output of about 950,000 metric tonnes, the highest since one million metric tonnes in the 2010/2011 crop year. Although there has been estimation of the country producing over one million metric tonnes by the close of 2018/2019 crop season, the current total output is around 700,000 metric tonnes.
Mr Agyemanng ,however, bemoaned the numerous challenges that confronted the industry, key amongst them being pest’s attack which was one major cause of the declining productivity in the sector.
“These infections have prevented farmers to produce more cocoa because the affected crops cannot be eaten or used for any cocoa product such as chocolates,” he explained.
Mr Agyemang also pointed out that the inadequate adaptation of research on how to increase cocoa productivity was also another major challenge facing the agricultural sector and cocoa farmers in the country.
Research, he said, was not just limited to the classrooms but every sphere of the economy of which cocoa farming was no exception.
“Research will help cocoa farmers to know the strategic means of increasing cocoa productivity to rake in more money for the country,” he said
Mr Agyemang urged the government to assist farmers in purchasing pesticides to spray cocoa which will kill and help prevent pests attack.
However, he stated that there were certain infections that could not be cured; therefore, those plants must be cut down after appropriate compensation had been given to farmers.
Additionally, he suggested that the government expanded the various research institutes to provide extensive research into cocoa production in the country on how to improve the sector.
He also suggested that it was imperative for cocoa farmers to be educated, stating that “education is key in detecting and dealing with infections to help increase cocoa production in the country.” — GB