By Kwabia Owusu-Mensah, GNA
Kumasi, July 11, GNA – Cocoa farmers in Ghana will from October this year begin the use of Motorized Slashers to weed their farms.
This is a move towards mechanized farming which would help reduce the drudgery of the current practice of manual weeding involving the use of cutlasses and hoes, to prune farms.
It also ties in with COCOBOD’s plan to shift the paradigm from cocoa farming being seen only as an agricultural venture, to a more lucrative and sustainable business opportunity as well as a huge employment avenue, as it attracted the youth.
Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive of COCOBOD, who announced this, said the Slashers would arrive in the country by October this year, and would be distributed to farmers who were members of cooperatives in their various districts.
He was speaking at the national launch of Farmer Cooperatives in the cocoa sector in Kumasi.
The Farmer Cooperatives is a joint initiative between the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD and GTZ to enhance extension service delivery and influence a change in farmers’ perception about cocoa farming and accept the new concept to manage their farms as viable businesses.
The Cooperatives would help farmers to adopt the various productivity enhancement programmes being implemented by COCOBOD independently.
It would also help farmers to receive training and technical recommendations on best on-farm practices that would ensure higher yield on the same field area and enhance farmers’ access to credit from financial institutions.
Additionally, the Cooperatives would be responsible for the operation of input shops to facilitate easy access to farm inputs, while helping farmers to execute self-help development projects in their communities.
Mr Aiddo said plans were also advanced to help and encourage the formation of farmer service companies in cocoa districts and regions, to provide essential services such as weeding of cocoa farms, pruning, spraying and others to farmers.
COCOBOD was also working to introduce technology in cocoa farming to help farmers receive information on their farms on time.
All these, he said was to ensure that cocoa farming was seen as a lucrative venture to attract the youth and other investments into the sector.
It is also to improve the incomes and living conditions of cocoa farmers, who were the backbone of the nation’s economy.
Mr Aidoo pointed out that, the formation of the Cooperatives was to build a solid foundation for cocoa farming to ensure that farmers derived maximum benefit from their sweat and toil.
He said all the productivity enhancement programmes being implemented by COCOBOD would be channeled through the Cooperatives, adding that, the Cooperatives would stand as a guarantee for farmers to access loans from the banks.
Mr Aidoo called on all cocoa farmers to join the Cooperatives so that they could benefit from the numerous interventions.
Mr George Boahen Oduro, Deputy Minister of Agriculture in-charge of perennial crops, said government was committed to improving the welfare and living conditions of cocoa farmers.
Mr Simon Osei Mensah, Ashanti Regional Minister appealed to leaders of the various Cooperatives to ensure transparency in all their dealings to ensure that the group remained united at all times.