Business News of Monday, 26 August 2013

Source: Graphic Business

Mass spraying of cocoa farms to phase out

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is to phase out its free mass spraying of cocoa farms across the country within the next three years, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer in-charge of Quality Control, Dr Yaw Adu Ampomah, has disclosed.

When the exercise began, COCOBOD was providing insecticides and machines for the mass spraying six times within a year. Dr Ampomah was answering questions from members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) when the Cocobod took its turn at the ongoing public sitting of the committee to discuss the 2010 and 2011 reports of the Auditor-General.

He explained that the six-time free mass-spraying exercise had been reduced to two while the farmers were being encouraged to purchase the insecticides in order to supplement the efforts of the company. Members of the PAC, most of whom have their constituencies in cocoa-growing areas, were, however, not pleased with the implementation of the exercise.

While some complained that the exercise was discriminatory, others expressed concern about the limited number of bottles of insecticides allocated to the various cocoa-growing districts for the exercise.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Bibiani-Anhweaso-Bekwai, Mr Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu, said since the implementation of the mass spraying exercise, the production of cocoa in the country had increased tremendously and cautioned COCOBOD against the planned phasing out of the programme.

He called on COCOBOD to take measures to solve the implementation challenges confronting the exercise rather than abandon the cocoa farmers to their fate. For his part, the MP for Asunafo North, Mr Robert Sarfo-Mensah, stated that it was even difficult for farmers who wanted to spray their farms against diseases to get the required amount of insecticides for the exercise.

The MP, who said he was a cocoa farmer, stated that it was difficult for him to secure what was required for him to spray his farm and wondered whether ordinary farmers could get what they needed for the exercise.

Touching on the provision of seedlings in an answer to a question by the MP for Atiwa East, Mrs Abenaa Osei-Asare, Dr Ampomah said although Cocobod was doing its best, what was being supplied free of charge was not enough.

He explained that currently farmers were being mobilised in groups to enable them to nurse the cocoa beans themselves in order to get the amount of seedlings they needed.

On accessible roads to cocoa-growing areas, Dr Ampomah told the committee that COCOBOD had provided funds to the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the exercise and urged MPs to direct to the ministry their questions on how the programme was being implemented.

The Chairman of the PAC, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, urged COCOBOD to educate the general public on how its scholarship scheme for children and wards of cocoa farmers was implemented.