Phase out harmful pesticides in cocoa production – Stakeholders advocate
Stakeholders in the cocoa sector are advocating for less application of pesticides to protect farmers and also avoid a global ban on Ghana’s cocoa beans.
This follows a research conducted by the Conservation Alliance titled ‘Pesticides Application within Ghana’s Cocoa Production Landscape’, which showed that many farmers are unaware of the dangers associated with the abuse of pesticides.
According to the research, pesticides such as Confidor and Condo, used mainly in cocoa farming, are also misused by some vegetable farmers – posing a threat to humans.
Speaking to the B&FT after a workshop in Accra, the Programmes Manager of Conservation Alliance, Raymond Owusu-Achiaw, said it is time to review the Cocoa Pest and Disease Control (CODAPEC) programme to discourage the use of pesticides which have been banned in Europe.
“If Europe has banned the use of certain pesticides and is still producing it for us, then it is time to look at the CODAPEC programme and review it,” he said, adding that in the cocoa sustainability programme pesticides should be a last resort for farmers.
He stated that some of the pesticides supplied to cocoa farmers in Ghana have been phased-out in the European Union (EU) due to the dangers associated with those chemicals.
“What we are saying to the policymakers is: look at your policies. Look at other places like the EU. If the EU is producing these pesticides but says they are hazardous, why are you importing them? Find ways and means to phase them out. We are putting the health of our farmers in danger,” he stressed.
Citing Mozambique as an example, Mr. Owusu-Achiaw said Ghana can learn from the southern African country by banning some pesticides and encouraging the use of organic pesticides.
He mentioned, for example, that some of the pesticides have been identified to be hazardous to the point of killing insects which help in the process of pollination. “The bees and other important insects that help in the process of pollination are all being destroyed by these pesticides.”
He pointed out that cocoa farmers can adopt farming practices which are less harmful in controlling pests; such as mechanical systems, biological systems and pruning.
Highlighting other recommendations in the research, Mr. Owusu-Achiaw disclosed that most farmers in rural areas are not getting access to subsidised farm inputs distributed by government. This, he said, has increased the cost of production for these farmers who are mostly smallholders.
“We realised most of them do not belong to cooperatives, that was one of the challenges. Most of the farmers are not getting access to inputs like fertiliser. COCOBOD is working on it by urging farmers to join cooperatives,” he said.
The Conservation Alliance of Ghana is a non-profit organisation that serves as a catalyst for biodiversity conservation and improved socioeconomic conditions in African communities.
The organisation uses its grant for undertaking campaigns to mainstream biodiversity conservation into cocoa production landscapes across the country.