New Tafo (E/R), Feb. 8, GNA - The Executive Director of Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dr Michael Ray Appiah, has debunked the assertion by some cocoa farmers that the incidence of purple colouring on cocoa beans was due to the introduction of "hi-tech" production method.
According to him, the main cause of the purple coloration of the beans was largely due to improper fermentation as a result of greed by some cocoa farmers and staff of the Licensed Cocoa Buying Companies (LBCs).
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at New Tafo on Tuesday, Dr Appiah, who is credited with the improved cocoa production method popularly called 'Hi-tech', explained that the beans become purple due to the refusal of some farmers to ferment their fresh cocoa for up to seven days before drying them.
He held that the haste to make money fast, some farmers begin drying the cocoa beans after only three or four days of fermentation, adding that such farmers were in collusion with purchasing clerks of some LBCs to buy the beans for them.
Dr Appiah explained that the hi-tech method of production took 30 years of research to attain.
"It is the sustainable cocoa production by which the cocoa farm increases yield and maintains productivity through soil fertility at levels that are economically viable, ecologically sound and culturally acceptable using efficient management of resources."
He said it mainly involved the packaged application of fertilizer, mass spraying of chemical for disease and pest control, regular weed control, and seven days of fermentation of cocoa.
Dr Appiah said the six or seven-day fermentation period, which had been practised by the country's farmers since the 1940s, was what made the country's cocoa gain the high reputation as the best quality bean on the international market.
He explained that the observance of the traditional fermentation period ensured much decrease of the antihotyanins or polyphenols (purple) compound content in the cocoa beans to as low as between 9 to 15 per cent but the three to four-day fermentation could keep the compound to as high as between 40 to 80 per cent in the bean.
He announced that a team of officials from the CRIG and the Quality Control Division of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) had set out on an educational tour of the six cocoa growing regions to interact with cocoa farmers on the proper application of the "Hitech" to check the increase in the purple bean syndrome.
Dr Appiah disclosed that the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) had adopted the Hitech concept to sponsor its propagation by cocoa farmers with him as the consultant.
On the way forward for the CRIG in the cocoa industry, the Executive Director announced that the Institute would soon complete research into the use of organic manure to replace chemical fertilizer and the use of biological method to fight pests and diseases in place of fungicides and pesticides.
According to him, the organic manure would be based on the use of cocoa wastes and poultry droppings.