The 4th Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA) Annual General Meeting was held in Ghana's western regional capital, Sekondi, in September 2012. With over 12,000 farmers attending, the event was staged at the 40,000-seat Essipong Sports Stadium, and also attended by Yara, Bayer, Syngenta and RMG representatives.
"This farmers association continues to play a fantastic role in the development of improved technologies in the cocoa sector," says Mehdi Saint-Andre, Managing Director of Yara Ghana.
Yara's technical support, knowledge sharing and quality inputs contribute to the farmers' association Cocoa Abrabopa. "Through training programs for farmers, the CAA not only brings agronomy and technical support, but important business skills, financing and benefits - like pension schemes for the smallholder farmers. This was a truly impressive event," he adds.
Yara: focus on innovation and R&D to help farmers increase yields
Yara is supplying over 60 percent of the fertilizer sold to the cocoa sector with its tailor-made blend named Asaase Wura ('Master of the Land') and YaraLiva Nitrabor.
“Since Yara Ghana has a strong focus on innovation and R&D, both products have been certified after five years of research and trials with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana before being launched into the market," says Mehdi.
The total cocoa farmer population in Ghana currently stands at about 720,000, holding together 1 million hectares (ha) of cocoa plantation. Ghana is today the second largest cocoa producer in the world (after Ivory Coast) and due to favorable weather conditions and good agricultural practices, Ghana produced a record 1.1 million metric tons of cocoa beans in the 2010/11 season. For 2011/12 production is estimated at 870,000 mt.
Through improved crop management, including crop nutrition from Yara, CAA farmers are achieving yields of 1.2 tons/ha typically, with the top yields at 2.4t/ha. This is against an average in Ghana of 400kg/ha.
It is important to note that in 2005/06 - before COCOBOD (The Ghana Cocoa Board) launched their high-tech program, including improved crop nutrition and protection application - Ghana was only 'producing' 500,000 mt of cocoa beans on the same surface.
"We know Yara can help increase yields through improved crop nutrition programs and advice," Mehdi continues. "The impressive thing with the CAA is the full package of support these farmers receive. It shows with the enthusiasm we see at such an event and the large participation of many, many farmers."