Ghana relies heavily on the sale of cocoa as an export and a source of foreign currency. There are a lot of small-scale peasant farmers in Ghana who grow cocoa and do not have the means, such as proper agricultural machinery or farm implements, to grow their businesses or enhance their operations. Due to these and other issues, the sector is experiencing major challenges, which have resulted in declining output. Inadequate methods of pest and disease management and general farm husbandry are discussed as contributing causes to the low levels of cocoa output in Ghana. Sustainable cocoa production in Ghana is anticipated in light of current research on integrated pest control approaches and sober socioeconomic factors.
Pest and Disease Problems
The most damaging insect pests of cocoa in Ghana are capsids, commonly known as mirids. Inadequate data and the complexity of losses from other causes, such as fungal and viral diseases and drought, make it difficult to estimate crop losses owing to capsids. The number of cocoa capsids is thought to be affected by climatic conditions, including light and humidity. Humidity, in addition to predators and parasites, has been hypothesized to have a direct impact on population shifts in Ghana.
It is anticipated that Phytophthora palmivora in Ghana is responsible for a significant portion of the losses that have resulted from the cocoa black pod disease. The first outbreak was more noticeable since it happened in a less ideal and drier cocoa region.
Six kinds of parasitic mistletoes, with Tapinanthus bangwensis being the most common, infest cocoa trees in Ghana. Maintaining shade may help with pest management, although pruning is frequently important for cultural control. The use of biological agents as a means of pest management has also been explored. Cocoa has had problems with nematodes for a long time.
Some farmers have abandoned their land because of pest difficulties, while others have switched to growing a different crop. The cocoa grower in Ghana has a pitifully low-profit margin per hectare. Under a share-cropping arrangement, the profit margin is significantly less. Youth migration from the countryside to the city is exacerbated by inadequate education, health, communication, and infrastructure. It has had a significant impact on the supply of agricultural labor, resulting in high labor costs and the subsequent decline of farms.
With the “Abusa method,” the farmer keeps two-thirds of the harvest and gives one-third to the caretaker. Furthermore, many people now believe that the traditional pesticides and fungicides that are suggested for controlling capsids and black pod disease are harmful to both humans and non-target beneficial creatures.
Proposed Integrated Management Practices
The Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) and an American university are working together on a project to create an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) package for capsid control, which will include the use of capsid sex pheromones and other semi-chemicals of capsid and plant origin, in addition to natural enemies, especially pathogenic fungi. Two of the five compounds have been shown to be appealing to both male and female D. theobroma and S. singularis in the lab.
After three years of applying miridicides at the recommended rate of four times per year and seeing positive results in the shape of a healthy canopy, it may be reasonable to lower the frequency of application to twice yearly. Spot spraying is another option; this involves treating just the capsid pockets between March and June when the damage caused by the capsids is most severe to the trees’ vegetative tissue. When combined with a closed, interlacing cocoa canopy and sufficient overhead shade, capsid counts may be brought down to below the economic threshold. Spot spraying and less frequent applications are not yet suggested on a nationwide scale.
The Role of Private Enterprise
In addition to the prevention strategies of pest management, mentioned above, Cocoa production can be enhanced by using proper agricultural machinery. Private businesses like Massey Ferguson Ghana may aid Ghanaian farmers by supplying them with affordable and accessible agricultural machinery including tractors, combine harvesters, and other farm implements for the farm. In addition to selling tractors, Massey Ferguson Ghana also offers a broad range of ancillary services for the agricultural sector. The company places a premium on satisfying its clientele.