General News of Sunday, 28 July 2019
Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, the Head of Botany at the University of Ghana, has suggested to the government to tightened pesticide approval processes in the country to phase out harmful products.
Such a measure, he explained, would help halt the influx of unapproved pesticides being sold on the market that was harmful to the environment.
Prof Oteng-Yeboah who made this suggestion at a day’s roundtable forum to deepen understanding of pesticide use within the cocoa-growing landscape in Ghana, proposed the invention of an alternative to the use of fertilizer to boost productivity and ensure environmental safety.
The meeting, which was on the theme, “Pesticides in Agricultural Production Landscape: The Cases of Cocoa”, was organised by the Conservation Alliance (CA) and Rainforest Alliance (RA).
It forms part of the RA Sector Partnerships Programme being implemented by CA and RA that seek to promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM) within Ghana’s cocoa sector.
So far the project had resulted in increased knowledge and awareness of COCOBOD’s policy on subsidized inputs and improved capacity of farmers especially women to undertake IPM in cocoa production.
Prof Oteng-Yeboah stated that, “If Ghana’s cocoa sector is to thrive very well, then the effects of pesticide use in cocoa production especially on health and the environment must be seriously looked at.
“More research must be conducted to establish the effects of pesticides on the health of the environment and communities as well as the cost to the economic growth”.
Mr Raymond Owusu-Achiaw, the Programmes Manager of Conservation Alliance International, recalled that in the mid 1980’s, Ghana lost its top spot position in cocoa production largely due to the decline in national output.
The decline, he said, was traced to a number of factors including the high incidence of pests and diseases that affected most cocoa farms.
Dr Gilbert Anim-Kwapong, the Director of CODAPEC, said that as part of efforts to increase production, the government through Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), initiated the National Cocoa Diseases and Pests Control (CODAPEC) programme, to assist all cocoa farmers in the country to control the incidence of diseases and pest on cocoa farms.
He said it provided subsidy packages on inputs to promote the adoption of higher and more frequent application of fertilizer and pesticides (Cocoa HIGH-TECH).
At the end of the discussion, there was a consensus among stakeholders that though pesticide use boosts cocoa production in the short term, the persistent use of it adversely affect cocoa productivity, health of farmers especially women and the general environment in the long term.