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Regional News of Monday, 20 June 2011

Source: GNA

Volta Region makes strides in revamping cocoa sector

Nyagbo-Sroe (V/R), June 20, GNA - The cocoa industry in the Volta Region is bouncing back as the enthusiasm to plant the cash crop has made giant strides.

About 202,000 hybrid seedlings out of an annual target of 420,000 seedlings have been planted in the Region compared to 96,000 planted in 2009 and 305,000 in 2010.

Mr William Mintah Wiafe, Regional Manager of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Viral Disease (CSSVD) Control Unit of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCBOD) made this known at farmers' rallies at Nyagbo-Sroe in the Hohoe Municipality and Poase Cement in the Kadjebi District.

He attributed the increasing zeal by farmers to plant the crop to government intervention's and policies including free seedlings, fertilisers, payment of bonuses, mass spraying and yet to roll pension scheme.

Mr Wiafe said government's package totalling GH¢1,844 was paid in two tranches for a hectare of cocoa farm destroyed due to infections and additional incentive to the farmers to replant the crop and intercrop it with cassava, plantain and cocoyam suckers.

Mr Rowland Takrama, Eastern Regional Principal Technical Officer of CSSVD, said swollen shoot could be likened to the HIV and AIDS pandemic and urged farmers to be vigilant to detect strange developments on their crops.

He said research has shortened the maturity period of cocoa to between 18 months and three-years as compared to the previous gestation period of five years.

Mr Rashid Adams, Regional Manager of Quality Control Division of COCOBOD said Ghana's premium cocoa has been acclaimed the best quality globally due to its distinguishing characteristics of fermentation regimes.

He said adherence to good agronomic practices including strict fermentation regimes spanning seven days, tendering processes and drying on mats added the premium flavour to the commodity.

Mr Adams advised cocoa farmers to maintain storage of the produce in jute sacks and avoid using synthetic materials or storage techniques that would compromise quality and flavour.

He said cocoa has anti-carcinogenic properties and other qualities which checks obesity, diabetes and hypertension and urged the people to include it in their daily menu.

Mr Prosper Zegbla, Regional Manager of Produce Buying Company said the Region contributed only 8,500 bags to the more than nine million bags of the produce nationwide last year.

Mr Zegbla said the dwindling fortunes of the produce in the Region affected agro-chemical supply and scholarship scheme for the cocoa producing communities.

Mr Benjamin Dzokpo and Mr Idi Tetteh, chief cocoa farmers said inadequate and absence of extension officers distanced farmers from good agronomic practices and called for situation to be reverse.

Togbe Owusu IX, Chief of Nyangbo-Sroe and Nana Amenano, Chief of Poase Cement urged land owners to make the commodity available to the youth to venture into the cocoa industry.

During an open forum, some farmers slammed the politicisation of cocoa mass spraying exercise.