A four-day training workshop and the launching of a pruning and clearing saw, for the promotion of organic cocoa production in the country was opened at Bunso Cocoa College in the Eastern Region on Monday.
The pruning and clearing saw is a mechanized implement for pruning and clearing of cocoa farms.
The workshop is being organised by Yayra Glover Limited (YGL), an organic cocoa buying company and Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SCECO), a Swiss Government Agency in collaboration with the Ghana Cocoa Board and is being attended by 22 participants including persons from farmer based organizations.
Opening the workshop, Mr Michael Owusu-Menu, Senior Manager of the Research Department of Cocoa Board said, effective pruning and good farm management practices could lead to improvement in the productivity of cocoa farms in the country to almost two tons per hector.
Mr Owusu-Menu advised the participants to consider themselves as trainers to train their colleagues who did not get the opportunity to attend the workshop.
He thanked the Swiss Government for supporting the introduction of organic cocoa production in Ghana and expressed the hope that the Swiss Government would continue to expand the organic cocoa market for the country as Ghana increases it’s production of organic cocoa.
Dr Francis Oppong, Director of the Cocoa Swollen Shoots Virus Disease-Control Unit (CSSVD-CU) of Cocoa Board said for years, Cocoa Board had been looking for efficient tools for the control of mistletoes and expressed the hope that the new equipment being launched would provide the solution to what his unit had always been looking for.
He said good pruning could affect productivity, hence the introduction of the cocoa rehabilitation programme.
Mr Yayra Glover, Chief Executive Officer of YGL said as a result of food-based health issues, there was a rising concern about food safety and in the cocoa industry, consumers of chocolate and other cocoa products, especially those in in the developed world were insisting on information on the origin and conditions under which the cocoa beans used for the production of chocolate and cocoa products were produced.
He said it was for that reason that the Ghana Cocoa Board collaborated with his company to create a niche conduit for the production and supply of certified organic cocoa beans to buyers all over the world.
Mr Glover explained that, the production of organic cocoa in Ghana had the potential of creating avenues for the establishment of subsidiary rural industries in cocoa growing areas of the country to create employment and reduce the rural–urban drift.
He said, the launching of the pruning and clearing saw could lead to the establishment of a gang of professionals who could acquire the machine and used it to remove mistletoes for cocoa farmers and other crop farmers for a fee and also help clear organic cocoa farms.
Mr Glover said, there would also be the need for the training and establishment of workshops in the rural areas for the repair and maintenance of the pruning and clearing saw and shops for the sale of the parts of the equipments apart from employees who would be engaged in the processing and packaging of organic cocoa beans.