The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) will distribute some 100,000 pieces of dual-purpose motorized slashers and pruners to cocoa farmers across the cocoa regions of the country for use on their farms.
The introduction of the equipment is in recognition of the urgent need to rapidly phase out the labour-intensive use of machetes and hoes for weeding and pruning on cocoa farms, says the Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo.
He added that the drudgery of the use of the labour-intensive manual tools discourages the youth from joining the cocoa farming business and such a situation bodes bad news for the sustainability of the country’s cocoa sector, hence, COCOBOD’s action to promptly resolve the situation.
Hon. Aidoo was speaking at today’s event held at Nkawie, in the Ashanti Region, to officially launch the motorised pruners and slashers. He said the distribution of the equipment will start immediately.
The dual-purposed Sharp Power 4T Motorised pruners and slashers will be distributed through recognized cocoa farmer cooperatives, who will then have collective ownership of the equipment, which can then be accessed by their member farmers to carry out pruning and weeding activities on their farms.
Also, at today’s launch was the Minister of State for Agriculture, Dr Nurah Gyiele, who as well acknowledged that “the era of machetes is getting over.”
He further recognized that gradually the cocoa sector is witnessing mechanized farming. “Mechanized farming”, he said, “have long been associated with large-scale commercial farmers. Today, COCOBOD is showing that the smallholder cocoa farmer can mechanized farm operations, as well”.
The introduction of this equipment for use by farmers will complement COCOBOD’s own mass pruning exercise. The equipment will aid in carrying out pruning with and at a much faster pace than presently. The clearing of a hectare of land, for instance, which can take a farmer using a hoe or machete several days to complete, will take an average of 2 hours when using a motorized slasher.
Given this very high level of efficiency with which the motorised equipment operate, one is able to satisfactorily serve the weeding and pruning needs of several farmers each season, hence, it is needless for each farmer to acquire one.
The collective ownership of the equipment by the farmer cooperatives, also means that one farmer does not have to singularly bear the cost of the equipment. Each cooperative will pay for its highly subsidized equipment over a two-year flexible payment plan.
Ahead of today’s launch, COCOBOD has already organised training workshops for hundreds of its extension officers, who will, in turn, be training cocoa farmers as part of their regular extension services duties, on the safe and proper use of the equipment and on how to maintain them for lasting use.(Ghana web)