A view of the Tree Global Nursery in Koforidua in the Eastern Region. INSET: Mr Nicos Chronaios (left) holding one of the hybrid seedlings and demonstrating how it is planted A view of the Tree Global Nursery in Koforidua in the Eastern Region. INSET: Mr Nicos Chronaios (left) holding one of the hybrid seedlings and demonstrating how it is planted
More than 10,000 farmers from 447 cocoa-growing communities in four regions have benefited 560,000 hybrid cocoa seedlings.
This is to enable them to increase their yield and also produce high quality cocoa that will meet international standards.
Some of the beneficiary districts are New Juaben, West Akyem and Fanteakwa in the Eastern Region; Amansie West in the Ashanti Region; Wassa East in the Western Region and Asunafo North in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The free distribution was carried out by Tree Global Nursery, the producers, on behalf of Mondelez International’s Cocoa Life (MICL) project.
The project, which is the brainchild of Mondelez International, a chocolate manufacturing company, focuses on a number of interventions, including equipping cocoa farmers with skills and knowledge on how to improve their well-being, as well as supplying them with free seedlings.
During a media tour of Tree Global Nursery in Koforidua in the Eastern Region, it became more evident that Ghana needs to pay more attention to the cocoa sector if it intends to achieve its cocoa production targets.
Currently, the country is producing about 800,000 tonnes of cocoa annually, with efforts being made by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and Mondelez International to increase the yield to at least one and a half million tonnes.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Operations Manager of Tree Global Nursery, Mr Nicos Chronaios, said last year the company distributed 500,000 seedlings to farmers in seven districts in the country.
He said the distribution of the seedlings was part of the MICL programme being implemented by the company.
“As part of the project, Tree Global is being partnered to produce quality and innovative seedlings for farmers that will ensure high yields for Cocoa Life communities where Mondelez operates,” he said.
Explaining how the seedlings were produced, he said they “are nursed in plastic pots designed to protect the tap root of the seedlings, instead of the usual polythene, to boost production”.
“In order to ensure the full benefit of the roots of the seedlings, a tray has been designed to carry 16 of the plastic pots for easy transportation and handling of the seedlings from our end to the farm sites,” he added.
Mr Chronaios further indicated that the seedlings given to the farmers were hybrid obtained from COCOBOD, adding that more of those seedlings needed to be produced if Ghana was to attain its cocoa target.
“Presently, the demand for the seedlings is so high that most of the farmers are asking for more from us. In the Asunafo North municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region, for example, the farmers have asked for two million seedlings from us but we cannot give them because they cannot afford to pay,” he said.
“We are only giving out the quantities Mondelez International has asked the company to supply annually,” he added.
The Country Lead of MICL, Mrs Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, said since the project began about 10 years ago, cocoa farmers in some districts of the country had benefited from millions of hybrid seedlings from Mondelez International.
She said although the company was doing a lot to improve cocoa production in the country, more needed to be done to enable Ghana to attain its target.
“We are not only giving free hybrid cocoa seedlings but we are also implementing a number of programmes to improve the well-being of cocoa farmers, especially the women,” she said.
According to Mrs Amekudzi, Ghana needed the establishment of at least five “Tree Global subsidiaries in major parts of the country where cocoa is grown”.
“We cannot do this alone and so we may need the support of the government to enable more farmers to get access to hybrid cocoa seedlings,” she added.