Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) has hinted of plans to introduce mini farm trucks to cocoa farmers to aid the carting of essential farm inputs between farms and the communities.
The initiative is part of efforts by the Ghanaian cocoa sector regulator to mechanize some farm activities towards making cocoa farming less laborious.
COCOBOD’s deputy chief executive, operations, Dr Emmanuel Opoku, disclosing the plan said just interventions are necessary to modernise cocoa farming while eliminating undesirable practices.
“If we have these essential support services working effectively farmers, for example, will not engage children to carry heavy goods from the farm to the communities and households,” Dr. Opoku said.
He explained that the COCOBOD mini farm trucks come with 4 tyres, unlike the tricycle cargo truck popularly known in Ghanaian parlance as ‘Aboboyaa’.
According to him, with the right means to transport goods between farms and the communities, the need will not arise for children to be involved in carrying heavy loads to constitute child labour.
Dr Emmanuel Opoku made the observation at the launch of Solidaridad West Africa’s RECLAIM Sustainability! programme designed to promote inclusion and fair value distribution in the cocoa, oil palm and mining sectors.
The 5-year Dutch government-sponsored initiative also seeks to amplify the voices of farmers and producers in key decision-making processes.
“So in your engagement with the farmers, we hope that you will also encourage them to see some of these essential support services as something that is worth investing in so that we can work together to address some of the very problematic issues like child labour,” he appealed.
He identified the willingness and commitment of cocoa farmers to pay for some of these essential interventions as a major difficulty.
The expectation is that cocoa farmers after experiencing the benefit of such interventions will adopt the innovation and pool resources through the farmers’ cooperative system to invest in procuring more for their daily use.
The introduction of the mini farm trucks by Ghana Cocoa Board adds to key mechanization and modernisation interventions in cocoa production in the last couple of years.
In 2020, the board distributed 100,000 motorized pruners and slashers to cocoa farmer cooperatives across the country.
The dual-purpose equipment are used to clear weeds from the farms and well prune cocoa trees to make them more productive.
Farmers have hailed the introduction of motorized pruners and slashers as having contributed significantly to reducing the drudgery and discomfort in farm maintenance.
The intervention combined with other initiatives under Cocobod’s Productivity Enhancement Programme has been linked to Ghana’s highest ever cocoa crop output in a decade.
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