The participants of the training course get acquainted with the pole pruners. The training has to combine elements of machine handling and maintenance as well as correct pruning of the cocoa trees.
Photo: J. Soth

15.06.2015

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A simple pruning machine could help West African smallholders maintain healthy cocoa plantations and enhance yields. However, a pilot project has shown that if innovation is to bear fruit on a sustainable basis, right from the start, education and training is just as important as looking for the right implementation model.

Cocoa producing countries all over the world face similar challenges: An over-aging rural population is maintaining over-aging cocoa plantations. Productivity is low and farmers hardly have the chance to develop out of poverty. The factors contributing to this low productivity are little or no investments into inputs, no replanting and neglect of the plantation. Once the plantation has reached a low level of yields, it is very difficult to convince the farmers to engage themselves again in cocoa farming. In light of these challenges actors from an organic cocoa project in Ghana decided to take direct action. The Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) encouraged stakeholders to look for creative solutions to combat the particularly challenging aspect of neglected plantations and supported the identified innovation financially.

In neglected plantations, trees have frequently grown taller than 6 metres, whereas around 2.5–3 metres is regarded as reasonable height for a well-maintained plantation that is easy to manage and harvest.

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