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SEED PRODUCTION DIVISION IN BRIEF FOCUS

Date: 20th July 2023

The Seed Production Division (SPD), a Division of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) was set up in January 2001 to produce and distribute hybrid cocoa seed pods to farmers following the dissolution of the erstwhile Cocoa Services Division as part of the re- organisation of the Agricultural Sector to have a unified Agricultural Extension Services. Consequently, the Cocoa extension was ceded to the Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).

The Division’s mandate is to multiply and distribute the best-quality planting materials in the most efficient, cost- effective and in adequate quantities to farmers across the country. Over the years, the Division has supported Ghana’s cocoa sector in achieving rapid growth in cocoa production levels, placing the country as the second-largest producer of cocoa after Cote d’Ívoire and subsequently maintaining the reputation as a producer of premium cocoa across West Africa and beyond.

In view of this, the SPD forms part of the Pre-harvest sector and spearheads the raising of hybrid cocoa and coffee seedlings for farmers at its various nursery sites across the seven (7) cocoa-growing regions. The division has 39 cocoa stations of which four (4) are coffee stations. In total, 512 nursery sites are available across the cocoa regions in the country.

The SPD has over the past 5 years evolved by adopting new models in raising cocoa seedlings for cocoa farmers in the country. The use of cocopeat, as a potting media and receptacles has replaced topsoil and polybags while the use of galvanised pipes with a concrete base to erect shed has replaced bamboo poles.

Also, the introduction of automated irrigation systems into the maintenance of Seed Gardens has reduced the stress of acquiring water and by extension, provided alternative source of water for nursery sites established at various locations. For example, the Division, in collaboration with Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), has constructed a 15ha drip irrigation system in Seed Gardens at Bunso and 13ha at Goaso, totalling 28ha. The project seeks to improve hybrid seed pod production in these locations to support the establishment of new and treated farms.

To complement Management’s efforts to increase cocoa production to over 1 million metric tonnes annually, the Division has established eight (8) new stations at Offinso, in the Ashanti Region; Akontombra, Juaboso and Sefwi Bekwai, in the Western North Region and Diaso, Huni Valley, Samreboi, Aiyinase/ Daboase, in the Western South Region to help raise more hybrid cocoa seedlings and seed pods for planting rehabilitated farms, and newly established farms, among others.

Over the past 5 years, the Division has cumulatively produced about 350 million hybrid seedlings and about 25 million hybrid seed pods, resulting in the country’s significant attainment of 1.045mt in the 2020/2021 crop season breaking a 10-year record in 2010/2011.

The Division’s ability to deliver on its mandate has faced some challenges, such as inadequate water supply at various nursery sites across the country, during the dry seasons, in particular, has always slowed down the pace of work done on the field. Also, the cost of erecting permanent structures to replace bamboo poles at some of the various nursery sites thwarts efforts at rolling out the full scale of technological reforms in the Division’s operations.

Due to the crucial role SPD plays in the cocoa production chain, many have hailed and described it as the “The Heartbeat” of COCOBOD’s existence. Perhaps, what must be done to achieve high visibility is to communicate the work of the Division to correct some misconceptions borne out of lack of information.

The SPD is poised to reform its operations by adopting more innovative methods of executing some of its core activities to enhance the production of high quality seedlings and hybrid seed pods while at the same time, protecting the environment.

Story by Edward Kojo Asante, Public Affairs, COCOBOD.

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