IMPROVED COCOA SEEDLINGS AND ITS ECONOMIC IMPACT(A STUDY OF COCOA VARIETIES AND SPECIES IN NIGERIA)
Cocoa production in West and Central Africa is low (200-700 kg per ha), as a result most cocoa farmers are not getting the full benefits from growing the crop. Studies conducted by the Sustainable Tree Crops Program indicate that at present, a large number of farmers (as much as 40% of farmers in the region) make a loss from growing cocoa. To turn this situation around, farmers need to intensify their cocoa cultivation. Cocoa intensification is a term used to describe a new vision of the cocoa investment whereby the crop is grown with the objective of increasing productivity while at the same time ensuring sustainability by protecting the environment. To do this requires that farmers, governments and the private sector (cocoa buying companies, input dealers, banks, and other credit institutions) make some significant changes and discard the »business as usual««attitude. In the case of farmers, conscious efforts need to be made to rehabilitate old and non-producing farms and/or establish new cocoa farms using best agronomic practices. In order to help farmers intensify cocoa farms through best agronomic practices, the Sustainable Tree Crops Program in consultations with the Cocoa Research Institutes across West Africa initiated a process to develop a comprehensive manual that provides technical guidance for farmers to establish and maintain cocoa farms using recommended guidelines. The result of this is the planting, replanting and diversification (PRD) manual, which is based on participatory learning and demonstration processes that promote mutual learning between farmers and experts. The objective of the PRD manual is to improve farmers’ knowledge and skills in order to carry out the necessary best practices in revamping old farms and/or start new ones. The manual uses the farmer learning group (FLG) approach, which is a structured group based learning approach that teaches farmers specific skills and practices using demonstrations, field exercises and discussion as the key training and learning tools. The training is based on five areas,
which involve training on how, farmers:
1. Analyze their current farm situation,
2. Select sites for new cocoa establishment,
3. Acquire clean improve planting materials for both cocoa and non-cocoa species,
4. Prepare the field for planting of cocoa and non-cocoa species,
5. Under go plant diversification.
The manual is divided into two sections. Section I contains bulletins that
provide technical information on topics related to the five areas mentioned
above and section II deals with corresponding demonstration learning exercises for participatory farmer training. These exercises could be used in training farmers on cocoa certification of voluntary schemes. There is a separate guide for using this manual and it is entitled »Implementing guide for planting, replanting and tree diversification in cocoa systems«. This manual is a work in progress and so feedback and comments on this publication are sincerely welcome and should be sent.