ACCRA, Four hundred thousand hectares of cocoa farms in Ghana are to be irrigated this year under a pilot project launched by the government to boost cocoa production.

The project, which will begin with 27 cocoa stations across the nation and some selected farms, is expected to significantly raise crop yield and promote all-year round cocoa purchase, says Randy Boitey, the Cocoa Extension Service Officer for Eastern Region (Province).

Addressing farmers at Akyem-Akuboa near Akim-Oda, about 100 kilometres northwest of here, he said it was part of a deliberate effort to increase the nation’s cocoa production level to make up for the shortfall in the price of the commodity.

Boitey also spoke about plans to introduce artificial pollination of cocoa trees. Research, he said, had shown that only five per cent of flowers produced by cocoa trees are fertilized and developed into cocoa pods and indicated that through artificial pollination, it is possible to get over 80 per cent of the flowers fertilized … to produce cocoa pods.

Boitey said if such a level of production was attained, the returns to farmer would be enormous as they could harvest in excess of 10 bags of cocoa beans per acre.

He added that some cocoa extension officers had already been trained to carry out artificial pollination and trials would be carried out on 50,000 acres of cocoa farms this year.