Juaso(Ash), Dec. 16, GNA - Asante-Akim South district has since the introduction of the mass cocoa spraying exercise in 2001 increased its acreage of cocoa cultivation by 25 per cent. Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at Juaso on Wednesday, Mr Albert Bour, District Coordinator of the exercise, said records at the district office of the Quality Control Division of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) indicated that there had been over 40 per cent increase in cocoa production since the inception of the exercise. He said the increase in cocoa cultivation and production within the district was due to the overwhelming response of the youth towards the programme.
Mr Bour noted that most of the youth had gone into cocoa farming for the past two years after realizing the viability of the programme. He said cocoa farmers had increased from 12,000 in 2001 to 14,700 this year.
The District Coordinator said to ensure sustainability and also improve on performance cocoa spraying gangs had been stationed evenly within the district to serve cocoa farmers. He said the district had 140 spraying gangs operating within the communities, and out of this 137 were in-charge of spraying against Capsid and the three assigned to spraying against the Blackpod disease. Mr Buor, who is also in-charge of the cocoa hi-tech programme, expressed concern about the farmer's attitude towards the programme, and appealed to the farmers to combine the two programmes to ensure bumper harvest.
He noted that the cocoa farmers owed the Government about three billion cedis in the purchase of 9,000 bags of fertilizers allocated to the district under the hi-tech programme.
Mr Buor said because of the indebtedness, the farmers could not access the next consignment of fertilizers as Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) had refused to guarantee for the farmers. He said this had led to the evacuation of 9,000 bags of fertilizers to Asankrangua in the Western region.
Mr Buor explained that some of the farmers after being guaranteed by some LBCs to sell their produce to them during the cocoa season violated the contract and sold their produce to other companies apparently to avoid re-payment.
He therefore, advised farmers to desist from such practices in order to achieve higher yields.