Leading fertilizer suppliers, Yara Ghana Ltd. has completed the training of extension officers and cocoa farmers on some useful farming techniques to ensure the maximum potential of cocoa crop are fully utilised.
In all 160 extension officers and 1,120 cocoa farmers benefited from the training which forms part of Yara’s Healthier Cocoa Campaign that took place in 16 districts in the Western region.
Commenting on the relevance of the campaign, Henry Otoo, Yara Ghana’s Head of Marketing and Business Development said, “The campaign was instituted to ensure that the majority of the farmers in the sector benefit from this unique fertilization program intended to promote high productivity in the cultivation of cocoa. It is an instituted annual program that will continue to run in all the cocoa growing districts to ensure a drastic improvement in the yields that are currently being attained by farmers.”
It is estimated that small-scale farmers constitute about 70 percent of the country’s labour force and access to extension services from agricultural experts largely remain elusive because of the low number of extension agents; just about 10 percent of the country’s farmers receive extension services.
According to Mr. Otoo, the extension agents were included to refresh their memories on the nutrition of cocoa and to ensure that farmers continue to receive this ground breaking education that will improve their yields and subsequently their incomes.
Research has revealed that about 90 percent of flowers produced by a cocoa tree will definitely drop before fruit set. It is therefore imperative to ensure the production of a certain high number of flowers at any point if the crop is to bear enough fruits, Mr. Otoo said.
Mr. Otoo said despite the importance of nitricnitrogen to cocoa plants, fertilisers sold on the local market lack that essential nutrition. In YaraLiva NitraborTMfertilizer farmers have access to a unique source of nitrogen.
The presence of this nitricNitrogen form, Mr. Otoo added, increases the weight and size of the bean as well as the size of the pod by encouraging the uptake of other cations which are so crucial to the yield of cocoa but otherwise are dormant in the soil and thereby increase the farmers yield drastically.
The presence of soluble Calciumand boronin YaraLiva NitraborTMis essential for cell wall resistance and therefore provides protection against Black Pod and other fungal diseases which plague the cocoa industry and which contribute to severe losses in the production of cocoa in Ghana.
Since the inception of Yara Ghana in 2007, many professional agronomists have been employed and trained in crop nutritional approaches to offer crucial educational support on fertilizer knowledge to all farmers across the country.
Yara’s Managing Director, Sergio Godoy added that the training, which is done on a regular basis, is to enable farmers recognise the important role high quality fertilizers and crop nutrition play knowledge to determine the yield and quality of cocoa, cereals and fruits as well as vegetable crops.
According to Mr. Godoy, Yara believes that it is through this approach that will enable farmers make informed decisions which will impact positively on their yields and which will lead to the country attaining significant yield increases.
“Yara is the world’s leader in crop nutrition approaches and as part of its mandate Yara includes the education of farmers as one of its core mandates to ensure that farmers are able to make informed choices on crop nutrition that will subsequently culminate in higher yields,” he said.