The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has initiated moves aimed at attaining one million tonnes of cocoa production by 2010.
The moves include intensification of extension activities and the mass spraying exercise, the expansion of the hi-tech package, under which large quantities of fertilisers are distributed to farmers to achieve higher yield, and the introduction of a hybrid type of cocoa which is disease-tolerant and takes a maximum of two years to bear fruit.
The Senior Technical Officer of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Control Unit (CSSVDCU) of COCOBOD, Mr Emmanuel Ahia Clottey, disclosed this in an interview at the just-ended 11th Ghana International Trade Fair in Accra.
Overall national cocoa production last year stood at 740,000 metric tonnes, the highest in the country's history.
Mr Clottey said with the introduction of the hi-tech package, a farmer was likely to harvest between 10 and 15 bags per acre, as against the four to five bags per acre prior to the introduction.
He said the new hybrid cocoa was developed by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) and added that the new variety and the application of fertilisers would help in attaining the target.
He said having realised that the various cocoa diseases were part of the causes of low yields in the past, COCOBOD had also embarked on an exercise to uproot all diseased cocoa trees and those which come into contact with the diseased ones and also assist the farmers to replant their farms with early-bearing, high-yielding and disease-tolerant varieties.
He added that farmers were compensated for the removal of diseased trees.
“The cocoa swollen shoot disease which was destroying crops is now under control and the mass spraying exercise, which is free of charge, is dealing with the black pod disease and the cocoa capsid, an insect which destroys the plant,” he said.
Opanyin Kwadwo Yeboah, a cocoa farmer at Kwame Tawiahkrom in the Sefwi area of the Western Region, who was at the COCOBOD stand to have discussions with the officials, told the Daily Graphic that the introduction of the fertilisers and the mass spraying exercise had resulted in higher yields for his farm.
He was of the opinion that if the exercise was sustained, the national target of one million metric tonnes could be exceeded.
Story by Mark-Anthony Vinorkor