Mr. Fuseini Bogrebon, an agro-ecologist from Gundoug, a suburb of Zanlerigu community in the Nabdam district of the Upper East region, defied all odds to grow cocoa in the area despite unfavorable dry weather conditions .
Cocoa, mainly grown in the southern part of the country, requires high rainfall and low temperatures with rainforest trees to provide shade and protection from excess sun and wind damage.
The Upper East region has only one rainy season per year, of around four months, with too much sunshine coupled with dry harmattan and high temperatures of around 42 degrees Celsius, therefore considered unfavorable to cocoa growth.
Mr. Bogrebon, whose cocoa takes up less than an acre of land on his agricultural farm, explained that it is possible to grow cocoa in the area with the necessary support.
“Growing cocoa in the region is possible provided there is support, for example I started my agro-farm in 1994 and added cocoa in the early 2000s amid challenges, because it is perceived here that after the rainy season the work of the farmer is done and so people release their animals and you as an individual can do nothing but endure and i so I had to fence off my farm first and plant various trees which changed the environment and improved soil moisture to make it suitable for cocoa,” he said.
He said it attracted a lot of people, including NGOs, one of which paid for mechanized drilling for him and it boosted his confidence.
“Although I am not just focusing on cocoa, it has become clear that it is possible to grow cocoa in the region when we devote our efforts and resources to it,” he added.
He said the crop was sensitive to drought conditions and low rainfall could negatively affect its growth.
Besides cocoa, Mr. Bogrebon also grew papaya which bears fruit three to four feet tall and that, he explained, was out of experience.
“Speakers who come here often argue with me that it’s a different breed and not the local papaya we know, and I laugh because it’s beyond my imagination to see a papaya as such, but it’s purely out of experience,” he said. said about his short papaya trees which had large fruits.
“Over time I realized that papaya is season sensitive and bears fruit at a specific time from the time of planting and so what I do is I feed the papaya seeds and transplant them in late September or early October where there isn’t much rain to give them the usual growth, and so I just water them to keep them alive and by the time they need to bear fruit they won’t be great but will begin to bear fruit” he explained.
He said the benefit was that it made harvesting easier, especially with large fruits.
He appealed for support from non-governmental organizations to expand the laying of pipes around his farm to enable him to expand production of other food crops.