The Ministry of Agriculture is examining good agricultural and environmental practices that can contribute to increased cocoa production levels in Grenada.
The Ministry, with support from the Grenada Cocoa Association, recently hosted a Train-the-Trainers’ workshop on sustainable cocoa production.
Officers from the extension and 4-H departments, young men from the Grand Bacolet Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre, and members of the Praedial Larceny Task Force participated in the initiative. The session zeroed in on the type and proper procedures for pruning that can give cocoa trees a structure that will help to maximise their production capacity.
Wayne James from the Grenada Cocoa Association explained to participants that there are three main types of pruning: formation, maintenance and sanitary. He explained that: “This practice is beneficial for cocoa trees, as it allows the plants greater access to sunlight and air. So, you prune because it encourages the health and productivity of the plant.”
The first pruning for cocoa traditionally takes place just after the main harvest — April to July — and just before the rainy season, with the second pruning 5 months later, during November and December.
Explaining proper procedures for pruning, Acting Senior Agricultural Officer, Lauren St Louis, said, “Officers, you have to ensure that the farmers are pruning properly, that is at an angle. You don’t cut flat across the tree, you cut at an angle. This is to ensure that water does not have time to settle and cause rot. It also prevents insects and pests from entering the tree.”
Extension Assistant Anisha Hosten, a participant at the training, explained the benefits of pruning. “We know that a cocoa tree should be maintained at a height of approximately 4 metres to facilitate easy management and harvesting. It is against this backdrop that I encourage my farmers to prune properly. This is one technique that is essential for the removal of old branches and damaged pods. It will facilitate increased sunlight which strengthens the formation of new leaves and fruits, allowing pods to grow healthily,” Hosten said.
Another Extension Officer Brenda Phillip, said, “The information from this training is essential to begin the process of rehabilitating cocoa fields across the country and thus ensuring increased cocoa production. Pruning is a skill required by all farmers that can contribute significantly to improved crop production.”
The Ministry of Agriculture is optimistic that the information shared will help farmers realise significant increases in yield and income that can support their livelihood.
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