Cocobod, farmers in dispute over insecticides availability

Despite complaints by some cocoa farmers about the unavailability of insecticides most especially at the community levels, Cocobod has said they have procured enough insecticides to cover two million hectres of cocoa lands both productive and non-productive areas inclusive.

This indicates that cocoa farmers no longer need to buy insecticides for additional spraying.

Currently, it is estimated that Ghana has more than 2.5 million hectres of cocoa areas of which about 1.45 million hectres are considered to be productive areas.

“We have chemicals to cover two million hectres for capsids and 1.4 million hectres for black pod”, Director for Cocoa Pest and Disease Control (CODAPEC) programme, of COCOBOD, Dr. Gilbert Anim-Kwapong revealed in Accra last Wednesday during a roundtable discussion on sector partnership programme on pesticides use in cocoa production.

This revelation was an answer to a question from a participant representing Kuapa Kokoo, who noted that farmers in his locality – Tepa in the Ashanti Region – are yet to receive any of the said procured chemicals meant for the cocoa famers.

In a sequel to this, a survey carried out by Leasan Consult – a research consulting firm represented during the event indicates that about 80 percent of the shops it sampled do not have Cocobod approved pesticides; adding that the cocoa inputs shops are not available at the community level for farmers to have easy access to the insecticides.

Aside this, the report notes that even where the shops have COCOBOD approved insecticides, there is no harmonization in the approval embossments by the manufacturers thus creating fears among the farmers as to  the authenticity of the claims of approval from the Board.

The survey was carried out in five out of the six cocoa growing areas in the country, namely Western, Ashanti, Eastern, Brong Ahafo and Central Regions using 600 cocoa famers, 20 focus group discussions and 20 key informant interviews.

To reduce the risk of applying unapproved pesticides, the report states that COCOBOD approved pesticides must be readily available in all local agro-input shops. In addition, the report states that COCOBOD must harmonize the features for identifying approved pesticides, and develop farmer friendly tools for detecting unapproved pesticides.

Reducing pesticide use

To reduce excessive pesticide use, CODAPEC and Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) have initiated steps to intensify the promotion of Integrated Pesticide Management (IPM) as an alternative to the use of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs.

This is being done through educating and sensitizing cocoa farmers on the need to observe good agronomics practices which include pruning, shade adjustment, weeding, removing of diseased pods among others mechanisms.

Stakeholders in the cocoa sector are optimistic that should farmers properly observe these measures, pesticides use could be reduced by half.