Groups Train West African Farmers On Tackling Threats To Cocoa Crops

West-Africa-mapBy Abdallah el-Kurebe

A joint training program aimed at boosting cocoa productivity and led by CropLife Africa Middle East and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has trained more than 32,000 cocoa farmers in West Africa to reducing the impact of pests and plant diseases on their cocoa crop.

A statement jointly issued by CropLife International and World Cocoa Foundation said the program trains selected farmers to become Spray Service Providers (SSPs), who are professionals that help farming community to identify pests, provide advice on their management and proper application of crop protection products on their cocoa farms.

Bama Yao Octave of CropLife African Middle East said the program was designed to help farmers avert major crop losses resulting from climate change issues.

“Already an estimated 30-40 percent of the cocoa crop is lost to pests and diseases every year, but the situation is now being exacerbated by hotter, more humid conditions in West Africa that favor the development of insect pests and diseases. These weaken and sometimes destroy the crop,” Mr. Octave said.

According to him, since the program, which is part of the WCF African Cocoa Initiative (ACI) began in 2013, more than 3,000 Spray Service Providers have been trained to help 32,000 farmers in four West African countries, including Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria where 70 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced.

The initiative is aimed at doubling productivity for 100,000 cocoa farm households and raise farmer incomes by 150-200 percent by 2016.

Chief of Party of WCF African Cocoa Initiative, Sona Ebai said that the collaboration with CropLife African Middle East was vital to boost productivity in view of the global demand for cocoa, which is now outstripping supply.


“It is not only humans who love chocolate. It seems that pests and diseases have quite a taste for cocoa, so we are constantly in a race to protect the crop. One of WCF’s biggest assets is building partnerships. We needed CropLife’s expertise in training people to use agro-chemicals properly so that there is minimal environmental impact at the same time as there is maximized cocoa productivity to meet increasing demand,” Mr Ebai said.

Lawrence Owosu, a Ghanaian cocoa farmer said: “The Spray Service Provider is very, very important and very, very useful to all the cocoa farmers around. Farming has improved tremendously and people are now making a profit.”

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