The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has launched the artificial hand pollination project aimed at increasing cocoa yields in the country.
The project, to be being carried out in all the six cocoa growing districts in the country, involves the picking of pollen from the cocoa flowers and dropping it on the stigma for cross fertilization.
Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD Joseph Boahen Aidoo explained that the hand pollination has become necessary due to the depletion of natural pollinators resulting in reduction in cocoa yields.
Speaking at the project launch at Awadua in the Ahafo Ano South District of Ashanti Region, he noted a cocoa tree produces 1,000 flowers every season, yet only five per cent of the flowers grow into pods.
Ghana only produces 0.45 tonnes of cocoa per hectare compared with other countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, which produce two tonnes of cocoa per hectare.
The hand pollination is among interventions to reach the targeted production levels.
Mr Boahen Aidoo said 7,000 farm hands will be recruited for the pilot project, which is expected to reach 50,000 cocoa farmers in the six cocoa-growing districts.
By April 2018, a total of 30,000 farm recruits would have been trained for the hand pollination project and these would subsequently train the cocoa farmers.
COCOBOD is hopeful the hand pollination will increase Ghana’s cocoa production and also increase the income of cocoa farmers.
The hand pollination exercise will be carried out in June-July main crop season as well as the light cocoa season between November and January.
By Ibrahim Abubakar|3news.com|Ghana