To rein in on the malaise that has recently afflicted the cocoa sector in Cameroon owing to a combination of factors including fake chemicals, poor methods of nursing, planting, harvesting and drying of the crop by not so knowledgeable farmers, MINADER via the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, has decided to train cocoa farmers through a programme, ‘The Farmer Field School’ on better ways of cultivating cocoa.
The training, designed to teach farmers modern and improved methods of growing cocoa from the nurseries, planting, harvesting and drying climaxed with a visit on graduation day totheir demonstration plots in Malende, Muyuka.
Prisca Bih, one of the field facilitators, explained that they encourage farmers to do diversification involving plantains, cassava and cocoa. According to her, cassava and plantains have a big role to play in times of droughts and serve as shades. She encouraged farmers to do replanting, and also divide cocoa farms into four blocks. She counseled that any cocoa tree above 40 years is wastage becauseof very poor yields.
Tambe Thomas Tabot, Divisional Officer, DO, for Muyuka, who presided at the graduation ceremony, noted that the importance of such training in the nation is not farfetched. He continued that, it was an important day because farmers are the back bone of the society. In his opinion, the training has brought into the limelight the techniques some farmers were not aware of. The DO furthered that they will now be square pegs in square holes. He implored the farmers to shelve the spirit of timidity and consider they are very important personalities in the country. He encouraged the farmers to apply in the field that which they have been taught so as to double their yields.
According to Arrah Emmanuel Etchu, representative of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, such training is of utmost importance. He stated that it would not only help farmers to produce good quality cocoa, but equally serve as a source of employment. He added that with the skills acquired, many shall prune or spray their neighbours’ farms and earn extra money. However he expects that the farmers in return should practise what they have been taught on their farms and be organized. He advised that those who have not undergone the training should endeavour to do so. Arrah stated that, going by the policy of the country by 2035, the nation should be exporting high percentage of certified cocoa. Hence if the cocoa has to be certified, then producers have to be well trained, maintaining international standards in their production.
Egoh Donaldson, a trainee stated that before now, he had been ignorant of the proper method of pruning his farm. But with the training he is now skilled in pruning which he loves so much. He promised to take back the knowledge to his neighbours, teach and also invite them to his farm for an examination of those trees that were not producing which now bear. He added that they have been facing a challenge in the price of cocoa because they were ignorant of how good cocoa is produced. But with the training, he believes that such challenges would be solved.
By Relindise Ebune