Ghanaian Cacoa farmers’ Decision to use Pesticides

Modeling Ghanaian cacoa farmers’ decision to use pesticide and frequency of application: the case of Brong Ahafo Region

Why are the Ghanaian cacao farmer’s deciding to use pesticides?  Agriculture plays a significant economic role for many countries in West Africa. It is the largest sector of the Ghanaian economy and the highest contributor to Ghana’s GDP, employing about 60% of the country’s labor force. The cacoa sector represents more than half of the income for roughly 800,000 smallholder farm families in Ghana. There has been a decline in cacoa production due to insect pests and diseases, as a result, farmers have adopted the use of pesticides so that yield losses are reduced. Despite the fact that there are proven methods to replace the use of pesticides, pesticide use is still high in Ghana. This causes two major concerns, on one hand are the factors that influence pesticide use. On the other hand, are the factors that influence frequency of application.

Knowing the factors that influence pesticide use is critical for organizations such as the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. There has been a number of studies on this topic but they only described the frequency of pesticide and did not estimate the factors which influence frequency of pesticide application. Because of this, a group of researchers conducted a study that seeks to analyze the pesticides used by cacoa farmers, frequency of pesticide application, the factors influencing cacoa farmers’ decision to use pesticide and the factors influencing frequency of pesticide application by cacoa farmers in the Berekum Municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. The study was designed by Elisha Kwaku Denkyirah and Elvis Dartey Okoffo.

For the sample, a total of 240 cacoa farmers were selected for the study using the multi-stage sampling technique. At the first stage, the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana was selected, At the second stage, the Berekum Municipality, At the third stage, six cacoa growing communities in the district were randomly sampled. At the fourth stage, a minimum of forty cacoa farmers were selected from each of the six cacoa growing communities.

A pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire was developed as an instrument for data collection. The structure of questions in the data collection instrument was a combination of close-ended, open-ended and partially close-ended questions. The survey was conducted from March 2015 to July, 2015.

The research concluded that majority of cacoa farmers used pesticides to control cacoa insect pests and diseases. The decision to use pesticides in cacoa production was influenced by gender, age, education level, years of farming experience, access to extension service, availability of agrochemical shop and access to credit. Frequency of pesticide application was influenced by years of farming, education level, access to credit, access to extension service, membership of farmer based organization and cacoa income.

The farmers do not have all of the fault for using pesticides, they have to work with what they have in order to make a living. The study recommends that The Ghana Cocoa Board should make approved and recommended pesticides available and affordable to cacoa farmers in the location where the study took place. One of the main reasons why pesticides are being used is because the correct pesticides were not available in agrochemical shops.

Another factor that could reduce the use of pesticide is access to extension service. Extension services should target younger farmers as well as provide information on alternative pest control methods. Government policies should provide subsidies on pesticides and also ensure that farmers have access to flexible and affordable credit. Also, more education to cacoa farmers about pesticide use practices in order to avoid misuse and risk factors should be implemented.

The responsibilities of this research were shared between the following people as followed: Elisha Kwaku Denkyirah and Elvis Dartey Okoffo designed the study and wrote the protocol, Elvis Dartey Okoffo, Amoako Ofori and Elisha Kwaku Denkyirah collected data, Elisha Kwaku Denkyirah and Derick Taylor Adu analyzed the data, Elisha Kwaku Denkyirah, Elvis Dartey Okoffo and Derick Taylor Adu, drafted the manuscript, Ahmed Abdul Aziz, Amoako Ofori and Elisha Kwaku Denkyirah reviewed and contributed to the writing of manuscript.

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