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Former President, Flt. -Lt. (Rtd) Jerry John Rawlings has commended the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for its efforts to mechanise cocoa farming in the country.
He said the board’s decision to replace the age-old cutlasses and machetes used to prune cocoa trees and weed farms, with motorised pruners and slashers was forward-looking and the right step to help sustain the cocoa business.
The Former President made these comments when a team from COCOBOD demonstrated how the motorised pruners and slashers were used to him in his office in Accra.
The demonstration followed an invitation that Mr Rawlings extended to the Board to come and show him how the equipment, which were unveiled this Tuesday, would be operated by the cocoa farmers.
The Former President, who was noticeably impressed with the demonstration, thanked the management of COCOBOD for focusing on the wellbeing of cocoa farmers, and for introducing mechanisation to reduce the backbreaking labour of the farmers.
He encouraged further steps to be taken to mechanise more aspects of cocoa farming.
Explaining the rationale behind the introduction of the slashers, Dr Emmanuel Nii Tackie-Otoo, the Head of the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the COCOBOD said COCOBOD had banned the use of weedicides because of their harmful impact on the soil and on the ecosystem of the farming communities.
The decision, he added, was then taken to introduce an effective means of weeds control on the farms, hence, the slashers. He noted that the machines were dual-purposed; for weeding and for pruning.
“We realized that the continuous use of weedicides was having a serious effect on our cocoa and the soil, so, management decided to engage experts to design this machine to provide an alternative way of controlling weeds while preserving the environment and the cocoa’, he said.
A Senior Manager at the Public Affairs Department of COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo, also added that the introduction of the equipment is part of COCOBOD’s larger Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEPs) aimed at increasing national cocoa production, improving the wellbeing of farmers and attracting the youth.
The PEPs, Mr Boafo said include mass pruning, hand pollination, cocoa rehabilitation and the cocoa irrigation programme, which is presently being piloted. All these farmer-focused interventions enhance the very nature of cocoa farming, leading to more earnings and enhancement in the living standards of the farmers.
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