The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has announced that it has concluded plans to purchase motorised slashers for use on cocoa farms, by October, for weeding and pruning purposes.
COCOBOD will buy the motorised slashers from the manufactures and give them to cocoa farmer cooperatives at flexible payment terms. The payment will be spread over a reasonable period of time to make it easy, such that, the farmers are able to pay in due time.
The introduction of the slashers is in keeping with an assurance given to cocoa farmers earlier this year by the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, during his tour of cocoa farms across the country.
He told the farmers then, that the implement will be supplied to them at an affordable price and at flexible payment terms.
The COCOBOD Boss, who announced the conclusion of the plan for the purchase, said the slashers will arrive in the country by October this year, and will be distributed to farmers who were members of cooperatives in their various districts.
He was speaking in Kumasi at the national launch of Farmer Cooperatives in the cocoa sector.
The move towards the use of motorised slashers is to reduce the labour-intensive use of machetes and hoes for weeding.
The drudgery associated with that weeding method causes some farmers to take the seemingly easy route of applying weedicides on their farms and that has very bad consequences for the cocoa trees and destroy the fertility of the soil, hence, COCOBOD’s ban on the use of weedicides.
The move to using motorised slashers also ties in with COCOBOD’s plan to shift the paradigm from cocoa farming being seen only as an agricultural venture, to a more lucrative and sustainable business opportunity as well as a huge employment avenue, as it attracted the youth.
The Farmer Cooperatives is a joint initiative between the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD and GTZ to enhance extension service delivery and influence a change in farmers’ perception of cocoa farming and accept the new concept to manage their farms as viable businesses.
The Cooperatives will help cocoa farmers to more efficiently adopt the various Productivity Enhancement Programmes being implemented by COCOBOD independently.
It will also help farmers to receive training and technical recommendations on best farm practices that will ensure higher yields on the same field area and enhance farmers’ access to credit from financial institutions.
Additionally, the Cooperatives will be responsible for the operation of input shops to facilitate easy access to farm inputs, while helping farmers to execute self-help development projects in their communities.
Hn. Boahen Aidoo said plans were also advanced to help and encourage the formation of farmer service companies in cocoa districts and regions, to provide essential services such as weeding of cocoa farms, pruning, spraying and others to farmers.
COCOBOD is also working to introduce technology in cocoa farming to help farmers receive information on their farms on time.
All these, he said is to ensure that cocoa farming is seen as a lucrative venture to attract the youth and other investments into the sector.
It is also to improve the incomes and living conditions of cocoa farmers, who were the backbone of the nation’s economy.
Mr Aidoo pointed out that, the formation of the Cooperatives was to build a solid foundation for cocoa farming to ensure that, farmers derived maximum benefit from their sweat and toil.
He said all the Productivity Enhancement Programmes being implemented by COCOBOD will be channelled through the Cooperatives, adding that, the Cooperatives will stand as a guarantee for farmers to access loans from the banks.
Mr Aidoo called on all cocoa farmers to join the Cooperatives so that they can benefit from the numerous interventions.
Mr George Boahen Oduro, Deputy Minister of Agriculture in-charge of perennial crops, said that the government remains committed to improving the welfare and living conditions of cocoa farmers.
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