Yara Ghana trains cocoa farmers, extension officers
Accra, Sept. 15, GNA - Yara Ghana limited, a leading fertilizer supplier, has trained more than 1,000 extension officers and cocoa farmers on modern farming techniques to boost maximum cocoa crop production and utilisation in the country.
As part of the company's 'Healthier Cocoa Campaign' that took place in 16 districts in the Western Region 160 extension officers and 1,120 cocoa farmers benefited from the training.
Yara Ghana's Head of Marketing and Business Development, Mr Henry Otoo, said in a statement issued in Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Monday that: 'The campaign was instituted to ensure that majority of the farmers in the sector benefit from this unique fertilisation programme intended to promote high productivity in the cultivation of cocoa.'
'It is an instituted annual programme that will continue to run in all the cocoa growing districts to ensure a drastic improvement in the yields that are currently being attained by farmers,' he added.
It is estimated that small-scale farmers constitute about 70 per cent of the country's labour force while access to extension services largely remain elusive due to acutely low number of extension agents.
Agricultural experts say just about 10 per cent of the country's farmers receive extension services.
Mr Otoo, therefore justified the inclusion of the extension agents as part of moves to refresh their memories on nutrition of cocoa and to ensure that farmers continue to receive, what he referred to as the ground breaking education that would improve yields and incomes of the farmers.
Research has revealed that about 90 per cent of flowers produced by a cocoa tree would definitely drop before fruit set, he said.
Mr Otoo said it is therefore imperative to ensure the production of a certain high number of flowers at any point if the crop is to bear sufficient fruits.
Despite the importance of nitric nitrogen to cocoa plants, Mr Otoo noted that fertilisers sold on the local market lack essential nutrition, and that in 'YaraLiva NitraborTM' fertilizer, farmers would have access to a unique source of nitrogen.
The presence of this nitric Nitrogen form, he added, increased the weight and size of the bean as well as the size of the pod by encouraging the uptake of others which are so crucial to the yield of cocoa but otherwise are dormant in the soil and thereby raise the farmers yield drastically.
He said the presence of soluble Calcium and boron in YaraLiva NitraborTM is essential for cell wall resistance and therefore provides protection against Black Pod and other fungal diseases, which plague the cocoa industry and contribute to severe losses in the production of cocoa in Ghana.
According to Mr Otoo since the inception of Yara Ghana in 2007, many professional agronomists have been employed and trained in crop nutritional approaches to offer crucial educational support on fertilizer knowledge to farmers across the country.
The statement quoted Yara's Managing Director, Mr Sergio Godoy as saying the regular training initiated would help farmers recognise the important role high quality fertilizers and crop nutrition play in determining yield and quality of cocoa, cereals and fruits as well as vegetable crops.
Mr Godoy expressed the hope that Yara's unique training approach would enable farmers to make informed decisions that would impact positively on their yields and lead to the country's efforts at attaining significant increase in crop returns.
'Yara is the world's leader in crop nutrition approaches and as part of its mandate Yara includes the education of farmers as one of its core mandates to ensure that farmers are able to make informed choices on crop nutrition that will subsequently culminate in higher yields,' he said.