Cocopeat Technology Replaces Dependence On Topsoil
Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has described cocopeat technology as the best alternative to the dependence on topsoil for raising cocoa seedlings.
Prior to adopting the technology at its nursery sites, the organisation relied on topsoil, a practice experts deem unsustainable, the new direction aimed at streamlining seedling production to support best practices that ensure biodiversity conservation.
The Executive Director of the Seed Production Division (SPD) of COCOBOD, Rev. Dr Emmanuel Ahia Clottey said, unlike other peats, the cocopeat is produced from coconut husks, a fibrous organic waste from the coconut fruit.
He said cocopeat promotes high water retention; ensures good germination and fast seedling emergence.
“The topsoil collected usually contains numerous debris like broken bottles, stones in addition to the presence of termites, bacteria, fungus and efforts at sieving and re-conditioning the medium physically and chemically before use is time-consuming, laborious and expensive”, he bemoaned.
Rev. Clottey further disclosed that the over-reliance on topsoil could result in sand winning and cause considerable harm to the environment and life, hence the need to shift from the practice.
He further said his outfit had ensured that cocopeat was used to raise seedlings at 25 out of the 32 Seed Production Division Stations across the country for the 2020/21 crop year and assured that a systematic plan had been put in place to roll out the initiative on a national scale.
‘We raised 15% of the 92 million seedlings target for the 2020/21 crop year using the cocopeat in receptacles. This will be increased incrementally to enable us to identify challenges with the use of the technologies and address them accordingly because it is the best way to go’, he indicated
Cocopeat is not the only new technology the Board has adopted to go green in recent times. Receptacles have also been introduced to replace the use of polybags and permanent nursery structures are being considered to save cost and environment.
‘The receptacles have holes underneath which ensure good drainage and guarantee intact healthy roots formation. Again, removing seedlings for transplanting is from receptacles is achieved with minimum disturbances to the young plant and these qualities are essential for the high survival rate of seedlings,’ he indicated.
He bemoaned the use of bamboos and palm fronts in constructing nursery sites which according to him, can have long-run serious consequences on plant species and animal habitats and hinted that the Board had resorted to the use of treated wood, shade nets and galvanized poles to build such permanent structures at all sites owned by COCOBOD.
The cocopeat growing medium technology largely been touted as the best solution to reverse unsustainable means of seedling production.