Jejeti — Government has given clearance to Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to employ 1,300 agricultural extension officers to be deployed to all cocoa communities across the country.
The move is to increase the number of extension officers to transfer agricultural technology and innovation among farmers to increase Ghana's cocoa production.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer in-charge of Agronomy and Quality Control at COCOBOD, Dr Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh, disclosed these on Friday during a presentation of 60 solar lighting system and educational materials to some cocoa farmers here.
He said currently, there were inadequate extension officers across the country, with one officer serving about 800 farmers, a situation that was making it difficult for COCOBOD to monitor and educate farmers on innovative inputs to increase production.
He was hopeful the employment of the new officers would help farmers to adopt and apply good fertilisers, best method of pruning and irrigation system.
He noted that COCOBOD was importing 100,000 weeding machines to be distributed to all cooperative farmers, so that they would move away from applying weedicides on their farms.
Dr Dwomoh said the introduction of weeding machines would accelerate the production of cocoa as they were invented to clear cocoa farms as well as assist in the pruning of the trees.
"This would help the fast production of cocoa since farmers will be able to clear and maintain large-sized cocoa farms with ease and pace.
"COCOBOD has banned the use of selective weedicide called dimethilamine salt, popularly known as two, 4D or 'Asomu' in Twi, on all cocoa farms in the country because it is injurious to health.
"The ban is in response to the threat by foreign major consumers of Ghana's cocoa that they will not import cocoa from the country if the farmers continue to apply the chemical on their farms due to its harmful effect on consumers," he said.
Nana Frimpong Siaw II, Chief of Atawase community who received the items on behalf of the people, thanked COCOBOD for the support and called on COCOBOD to provide a new classroom block for the pupils of Atawase Junior High School.
He said the school for almost a year had no classrooms for JHS and had to use a church building for their lessons, after several petitions to the Ghana Education Service and stakeholders had proved futile.
"The absence of electricity is another major problem for us and we are grateful for the solar lighting system, since it would help our children to learn at night," he said.