Business News of Thursday, 16 May 2019
The Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has officially handed over an ultra-modern solar powered irrigation system to a cocoa farmer.
The system has been installed on a 30-acre cocoa farm owned by Solomon Tahola at Assin Fosu, in the Assin North Municipality of the Central Region.
It would enable year-round production of cocoa on the farm and more than double yields.
The irrigation system, which also has a fertilizer dissemination component, is the first of its kind.
Mr. Boahen Aidoo told the farmer to put the irrigation system to good use.
He urged that “it should ensure a continuous harvest of cocoa even during the harmattan season when cocoa yields turn to drop significantly due to the scarcity of water.”
Describing the operation of the system, the Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Operations at COCOBOD, Dr Emmanuel Opoku, said the system “has a pump that has been designed to draw water from underground to the drip pipes” which have been laid out on the farm at the bases of the cocoa trees.
“It has a fertigation system also and is entirely powered by solar energy. The solar panels supply power to the pump which in turn draws the water and distributes it straight to the cocoa plants,” he said.
He added that “it has been designed to work for six hours in a day; stating at about 10 am when the sunshine is bright enough to power the pump.”
Dr Opoku stated that the system was designed such that when there is no water underground to draw from, the pump stops working but “it works so long as there is water and there is energy from the sun”.
“It is also such that, the very end of the drip pipes has the same water pressure as the begining so that the water flowing through the irritation system flows evenly to all the plants.”
To use the same irrigation system to apply fertilizer to the cocoa trees, the farmer needs only to fill up a chamber attached to the system with the fertilizer and it will flow through the drop pipes to the plants as the pump pumps water to them.
The installation of the solar-powered irrigation system by COCOBOD onto cocoa farms come at no upfront cost to the farmer.
Instead, farmers would “be given very flexible payment schedules to pay for the system, although the increase in their yield volumes will be immediate.”
The ceremony to hand over the irrigation system took place during the COCOBOD Chief Executive’s week-long tour of the cocoa-producing regions in Ghana; a tour which began on Monday 13 May and is still ongoing.
Mr. Boahen Aidoo and other top management executives of COCOBOD have been visiting cocoa farms and farming communities to assess their level of participation in the various farm Productivity Enhancement Programmes (PEP) by COCOBOD.
The tour is also to gathering first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing farmers at different parts of the cocoa-producing areas; and to hold farmer rallies to interact with farmers.