By Stephen Asante, GNA
Kumasi, Sept 09, GNA - The Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union (KKFU) has taken steps to aid its members to adopt best practices through the use of information, communication and technology (ICT).
Ms. Fatima Ali, the President, said this had become important given the difficulty many farmers were having with access to extension and technical services.
The move comes against the backdrop the forecast of sharp decline in cocoa production in most growing areas, made by the International Cocoa Organization and Industry, an inter-governmental body promoting sustainable cocoa production.
It cited changing weather conditions, bushfires, pests and diseases, soil degradation, ageing cocoa farms, inadequate government support and the non-adherence to acceptable farming practices as the driving factors.
Ms. Ali, speaking at a ceremony to mark the official start of construction work on a Tele-Agric Consultancy Centre in Kumasi, said the nation needed to invest in appropriate technologies to sustain crop production.
The facility, a joint project between the KKFU and Millennium Promise Alliance, an international NGO, would assist farmers to use software application for agronomic practices, and other on-field activities.
When completed it would offer timely information to farmers on weather, farm inputs and markets, as well as pest and disease control to maximize crop yield.
Ms. Ali said Centre would be ready in three months and would serve about 500, 000 cocoa farmers nationwide.
This was part of the Kuapa Kokoo Sustainable Development Programme, seeking to introduce technology-driven and climate-smart agriculture to overcome the technical challenges.
Mr. Nathaniel Nsarko, Country Director of the Millennium Promise Alliance, hinted of plans to scale-up cocoa farming and agri-business practices.
He expressed confidence that digital technology would go a long way to reduce the cost of providing extension support services to farmers adding that periodic data analysis and report generation would be shared with the farmers.
The project comes at a time when the nation consistently has been missing cocoa production targets.
Ghana has hoped to produce 850,000-900,000 tonnes of cocoa this year, up from the previous year's total of 740,000 tonnes, but agricultural researchers' are predicting that the production would not exceed 750,000 tonnes.