Yawsae — The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has stepped up efforts in implementing its Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) aimed at achieving its one million metric tonnes target for the 2019/2020 cocoa season.
The PEPs involved pruning, hand pollination and supply of fertilisers to cocoa farmers across the country.
The Berekum Cocoa District Extension Coordinator in the Bono Region, Emmanuel Fosu Nkueh, who stated this, said the ongoing hand pollination exercise would include more farms.
Mr Nkueh was speaking when he toured hand-pollinated cocoa farms at Yawsae near Atronie on the Sunyani-Kenyasi road to interact with farmers, community extension officers and hand pollinators.
According to him, 30,000 youth across the country have been recruited and trained for the exercise.
Prior to the commencement of the hand pollination exercise, he indicated that COCOBOD conducted pruning on the cocoa farms, which was aided by 100,000 motorised pruner/slasher machines procured by COCOBOD and distributed to the farmers.
"In the Berekum Cocoa District alone, a total productive area of 4,215.32 hectares of cocoa farms was pruned by co-operative volunteer farmer associations," he said.
He was hopeful the COCOBOD was on track to achieve its target, saying "before the introduction of hand pollination in 2017, averagely, farmers used to harvest between 3-5 bags (64kg) per acre, but hand pollinated farms now produce 25-30 bags. We expect each tree to produce not less than 50 pods."
The COCOBOD Extension Coordinator advised farmers to embrace PEPs to help increase productivity and income as well.
He also entreated them to adhere to best farming practices to safeguard their farms from pests and diseases.
Mr Nkueh emphasised that COCOBOD had resolved to reach out to farmers with interventions such as supply of fertilisers through registered co-operatives and urged all farmers to join registered co-operatives in other not to be left out.
To the hand-pollinators, he charged them to work harder to feed into the aspirations of the Board, adding "we will not tolerate any lacklustre and lazy persons. We will terminate the appointment of any hand pollinator who exhibits these attitudes."