Cocoa farmers in Ghana stand to rake in some whooping Gh¢11,484 from every acre of farm if every tree on their farm is supported to produce at least 60 mature pods.
An acre of a well lined and pegged farm contains about 435 cocoa trees and if each tree produces 60 pods, a total of 26,100 pods is expected to be harvested by the farmer.
On the average, dry cocoa beans from about 1,500 mature pods make up a bag of 64kg of cocoa. This implies that by dividing the estimated 26,100 pods by a projected 1,500 pods means that 17.4 bags of cocoa will be achieved by the farmer. Furthermore, 17.4bags at the current GHc660 price per bag of cocoa, will translate into a total of Gh¢11,484.
This arithmetic analysis formed the basis of a 35-minute address delivered by the Executive Director of the Cocoa Health & Extension Division (CHED) Dr. Emmanuel Nii Tackie Otoo at the launch of ‘Operation 60 pods and Treat your Farm’, a productivity initiative rolled out by the Nankese Cocoa District of the Eastern Region to improve cocoa production in the district.
Addressing the over 1,500 members of various farmer cooperatives who had converged at Nankese for the launch, Dr. Nii Tackie Otoo lauded the Operation 60 pods initiative and called on cocoa farmers to use the knowledge acquired from various Farmer Business School Programmes to enhance their perceptions about cocoa farming and also adopt more entrepreneurial strategies.
Citing the Mass Pruning and Hand Pollination recently introduced by COCOBOD as examples of flagship programmes of COCOBOD, he said farmers who hired extra hands (professional pruners and pollinators) to prune and pollinate their farms have experienced significant increase in yields.
He further stated that COCOBOD would engage more pollinators and equip them with relevant logistics to enable them pollinate more selected farms as the programme scales up.
He encouraged farmers to augment the efforts of COCOBOD by ploughing back portions of gains and revenues arising from the new producer price of GHc660 for the 2020/21 crop year into their operations to maintain their farms and improve yields.
Dr. Nii Tackie used the opportunity to explain the incentive package associated with the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme and called for massive support from farmers.
He indicated that both the farm owner and land owner will each get GHc1,000.00 for every hectare of farm cut out and treated in addition to other free maintenance package and agronomic support services from COCOBOD.
He encouraged the farmers to cooperate with the CSSVD treatment team when the programme commences in the district in their own interest.
Touching on the on-going Cocoa Management System and the great opportunities it provides for farmers, the CHED boss implored farmers to avail themselves when the exercise commences in their Region.
He particularly indicated that scale adjustment and other forms of cheating which occur during farmers’ dealings with purchasing clerks and other actors in the value chain will be wiped off completely to protect farmers’ income.
Dr. Nii Tackie encouraged the cooperatives to ensure transparency and honesty and assured them of Management’s support to enhance their farm operations and livelihoods.
On his part, the Nankese District Cocoa Officer, Mr Abednego Asante bemoaned the high apathy of farmers in the district and expressed optimism that the initiative would engender and whip up their interest to take up their farming activities with much seriousness.
He outlined series of planned engagements as part of a broader action plan to make the programme a success.
Mr. Benjamin Larweh, Principal Officer of the Public Affairs Department, COCOBOD, educated the farmers on the health and nutritional benefits of consuming unsweetened cocoa and charged them to encourage their children to also consume cocoa in all its processed forms for cognitive development and academic excellence.