The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has recruited 750 young men and women this year under the cocoa pollination programme to boost yields of cocoa farms in the Dormaa Central Municipality of the Bono Region.
Mr. David Afriyie Gyebi, the Municipal Cocoa Officer, Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the COCOBOD said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) during a field trip to a 160-acre cocoa farm at Issakrom, a farming community in the Municipality.
The visit was to afford his outfit an opportunity to assess, monitor and evaluate the impact and progress of the pollination exercise at the farm.
Mr. Gyebi said most of the recruits were either unemployed Junior/Senior High School (J/SHS) graduates or dropouts, adding that in 2017, 350 pollinators were engaged, as against 450 in 2018.
The objective of the programme was to recruit 30,000 pollinators nationwide to scale up the national production of cocoa beans from 800,000 metric tonnes per annum to 1 million metric tonnes.
“The COCOBOD would like to use the pollination exercise to address the 200,000 metric tonnes shortfall because about 90 per cent of germinated cocoa flowers dropped and wasted annually”, Mr. Gyebi explained.
The programme he said was being used to rectify that anomaly to double the yields of cocoa farms.
Mr. Gyebi said the criteria for selection of a particular farm for the exercise depended on three main factors – a farm with flowered cocoa trees to aid the pollination process, farms that were not infected by Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus and farms between eight to 20 years old.
He urged cocoa farmers to apply fertilizer constantly on their farms to aid the process of germination of cocoa flowers.
Mr. Gyebi said, “a group of five people is expected to pollinate one acre for a farmer within a week from 0600 hours to 1300 hours each day and within one month 600 acres for 600 farms are supposed to be pollinated”.
Ms. Rejoice Ameyaa, group leader for pollinators in the farm appealed to the COCOBOD to provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE) - wellington boots, raincoats and cutlasses to enhance safety in the farms.
Mr. Issah Sawadogo, the owner of the farm commended government for initiating the pollination programme because it would help to double yields and ensure profitability in the farming business.