Cocoa farmers on a field
A TOTAL of 620,000 hectares of cocoa farms are expected to benefit from about 4.65 million bags of granular fertilizer and 700,000 litres of liquid fertilizer allocated by the government as part of a strategy to meet production target for the current cocoa season.
The allocation falls under the government’s subsidized fertilizer programme introduced about a year ago as part of a bigger plan to ensure that farm inputs, especially fertilizers, are targeted directly at the farmers.
Previous fertilizer supply programmes had resulted in smuggling and inequities in distribution, leaving many farms unserved and unproductive.
According to the Deputy Director of Ghana Cocoa Board’s Cocoa Disease and Pest Control (CODAPEC) division, Samuel Saka Boateng, the new policy has already started yielding results. “Currently about 99% of the fertilizers go straight to the communities within which the farmers operate and we are getting close to achieving our objective of improving soil fertility of all cocoa farms,” he said.
The gains, largely attributed to the decision to engage the farmers through cooperatives within their communities, were expected to be further cemented as more farmers continue to see the benefits in joining the cooperatives through which the fertilizers were supplied.
Cocoa farmers who are members of the cooperatives currently enjoy a government subsidy that represents 56% of the market value of fertilizer.
Mr. Saka Boateng believes encouraging the formation and strengthening of the cooperatives is key to achieving another one million metric tonnes feat in cocoa production.
“Through the cooperatives, we are able to reach more cocoa farmers with the various interventions available for educating and supporting farmers to ensure increase in production,” he said.
He added that various interventions such as supply of free hybrid seedlings, hand pollination, pruning and rehabilitation of aged farms among others were easily accessible to cocoa farmers through the cooperatives.
Mr. Saka Boateng emphasized that the continued success of the subsidized fertilizer supply was partly dependent on the commitment of the cooperatives to pay for supplies within time.
He encouraged cocoa farmers to continue to support government’s efforts to improve conditions in cocoa production.