Cocoa production in Ghana can see a significant increase if more investment is made in irrigating cocoa farms.
This means, the cash crop will not only be harvested all year round but increase production between four to five folds for farmers.
The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul observed this when he visited a piloted irrigated cocoa farm at Punikrom in the Ahafo region.
The 7-acre irrigated cocoa farm has seen a high increase in yields since the irrigation facility was installed 3-years ago.
“This irrigation facility has been beneficial to my business. I used to harvest a maximum of 30 bags in the year but since I irrigated my farm, I’m currently getting between 125 to 130 bags due to access to water all year round”, 54-year-old cocoa farmer, Adu Kwesi told to the Dutch Ambassador.
The solar-powered facility installed by the COCOBOD with an instalment payment plan by the farmer appears to be the game-changer for the farmer.
Adu Kwesi believes Ghana will produce beyond 1.5 million tonnes of cocoa on an annual basis if more farmers are assisted with irrigation facility.
The farmer is a beneficiary of one of the Rural Service Centres (RSC) established under the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP II) which is being implemented by Solidaridad and funded by the Dutch Government.
“Now that we are having issues of climate change, irrigating the farm is the way to go. This will complement the little rainfall all year round. We don’t have anything like seasonal in this farm. The only problem for most farmers is the initial cost of installation”, the manager of a rural service provider, Agrisus Consult, Anyormi Emil.
Ambassador Verheul was impressed with how the irrigated cocoa farm is contributing to more yields and income to the farmer.
“We are looking at ways to improve irrigation for cocoa but there is no definite plan yet. What I have seen in the farm and in my latest discussion with COCOBOD and the financial institutions is that this is one of the best ways to attract finance to the sector to improve access to loans to invest in irrigation”
The Ashanti regional manager for Cocoa Health Extension Division (CHED) of Ghana Cocoa Board, Kwadwo Osei Danso said the government intends to scale up the piloting of irrigated cocoa farms.
“We observed that farmers with the irrigation facility have increased their yields four-folds. So, COCOBOD this year is trying to upscale the irrigation system. Some cocoa farmers in New Edubiase and Nyinahini have shown interest and the facility will soon be installed for them”.
Irrigated cocoa farms will not only improve the income of farmers but also increase the annual cocoa production of the country.