Ghana COCOBOD adopts sustainable cocoa seedlings raising techniques, protects environment

GHANA – Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has adopted the use of cocopeat and receptacles as new technologies for raising cocoa seedlings at nursery sites.

Cocopeat is 100% soilless organic medium produced from coconut husks with some trace elements which make it a good substitute for topsoil, whereas the receptacles are plastic containers adopted to replace polybags often used in raising cocoa seedlings.

The initiative is part of the Board’s moves to streamline its core activities to align with best practices that protect and conserve the environment.

Every year, the Seed Production Division (SPD) of COCOBOD raises millions of cocoa seedlings for free distribution to farmers in the country.

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The process involves the use of polybags and topsoil normally obtained from places such as treated and abandoned old refuse dump sites.

Although, there are always deliberate attempts by SPD to ensure that the polybags are properly dispose of after the seedlings had been transplanted, there are still some concerns on the environment because the bags are not easily decomposable. 

Also, collecting topsoil continuously is also not eco-friendly. In addition, the topsoil collected usually contains numerous debris like broken bottles, stones in addition to the presence of termites, bacteria, fungus and efforts at sieving and re-conditioning the medium physically and chemically before use are time consuming, laborious and expensive.

Over-reliance on topsoil can also result in sand winning and cause considerable harm to the environment and life, hence the need to shift from the practice.

“Technology is obviously the way to go now given heightened and continuous concerns from environmentalists on the need to ensure biodiversity conservation in cocoa cultivation and for that matter agriculture.”

Executive Director of the Seed Production Division (SPD) of COCOBOD – Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Ahia Clottey

The Executive Director of SPD, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Ahia Clottey has disclosed that 25 out of the 32 Seed Production Division Stations across the country have implemented the novelty for the 2020/21 crop year.

“For a start, the division plans to raise 15% of the 92 million seedlings target for the 2020/21 crop year using the cocopeat and the receptacles. This will be increased incrementally to enable us identify challenges with the use of the technologies and address them accordingly because it is the best way to go,” he indicated. 

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Modernization of the division’s activities is a prerequisite for transforming operations and achieving maximum impact.

The two media are not only ecologically friendly but also provide good condition for the proper growth of the seedlings.

The cocopeat promotes high water retention; ensures good germination and fast seedling emergence.

The receptacles on the other hand have holes underneath which ensure good drainage and guarantee intact healthy roots formation.

Removing seedlings for transplanting from receptacles is achieved with minimum disturbances to the young plant and these qualities are essential for high survival rate of seedlings.

Going forward Rev. Ahia Clottey said his outfit and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) are working together to monitor the twin-technologies under certain parameters to gather adequate observations which will help to provide the necessary backstopping to improve efficiency.

“Technology is obviously the way to go now given heightened and continuous concerns from environmentalists on the need to ensure biodiversity conservation in cocoa cultivation and for that matter agriculture,” he concluded.

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