Cocoa farmers have been advised to adhere to health and safety measures, especially in the use of agro-chemicals on their farms, to stave off accidents and prolong their lives.
Mr. Geoffrey Sam, the Ashanti Regional Extension Officer of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the COCOBOD, said they had to abide by instructions on the use and proper storage of all agro-chemicals.
They should make sure that they employed the right application to the crops whilst also avoiding its inhalation and ingestion into their bodies since that could have serious health implications.
Mr Sam also asked them to be careful of accidental injuries on their farms as they used sharp implements like machetes among other tools to work.
He was speaking at a farmers’ forum held at Domeabra, in the Asante Akim North District.
“You must always endeavour to wear protective clothes, bathe after usage of chemicals, wash hands with soap after usage of chemicals before eating in order to stay healthy and productive to enjoy the fruits of your labour”, he added.
He pledged strong extension support to the farmers to raise crop yield and returns and called on them not to hesitate to seek expert extension advice on pollination, pruning, and spraying of the cocoa trees, when necessary.
Mrs. Margaret Frimpong Ayerakwa, the Deputy Regional Manager of the CHED, reiterated COCOBOD’s commitment to improve the productivity and livelihoods of cocoa farmers.
She said government’s support to farmers through COCOBOD such as mass spraying, pruning, pollination, and others were aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of the Ghanaian cocoa beans on the international market.
This was the only guarantee to secure good prices for the farmers and nation at large on the international market to generate enough revenue for economic, social and infrastructural development.
Dr. Isaac Boakye Danquah, the Regional Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Division, urged cocoa farmers not to only join farmer groups and cooperatives to enable them to access financial support in farming activities, but also participate in the farmers’ business training programme made available by COCOBOD in collaboration with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
“This will enable you manage your farms as business ventures to increase growth, yield and income.”
Dr Boakye Danquah urged them to always see their farms as businesses and to cooperate with the Division in its rehabilitation programme meant to stop the continuous spread of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSVD).
They should do this by cutting down all disease infected and aged cocoa trees on their farms and replace them with improved varieties at no cost to the affected farmer, to help sustain cocoa production and incomes.
Nana Afum Agyarkoh Amoah II, Kontihene of Domeabra, commended CHED for the opportunity given to farmers to express their worries and challenges in their farming business and urged the government to take the various concerns and wellbeing of farmers across the country into serious consideration.