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October 13, 2008

Ghana, Nigeria benefit from cocoa research grants

World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has awarded US$146,000 in challenge grants that will be used over next 12 months to design and test innovative technologies benefiting cocoa farmers and building capacity of local extension services and farmer associations.

Grants were awarded to eight research institutes, universities and farmer organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America for work focused on advancing labour-saving technologies, production efficiency, and education.

Grants were announced at World Cocoa Foundation's 14th partnership meeting, held in Hamburg, Germany.

"Innovation is key to helping cocoa farmers fully benefit from world's growing appetite for this important commodity," said president of WCF, Bill Guyton. "Inefficient and labour-intensive farming practices must make way for new approaches if we are to strengthen farm families and communities both economically and socially. Grants announced today will bring this much-needed innovation to field, making it more accessible to cocoa farmers around world," he added.

Grants according to statement were awarded in area of farm-level innovation to among others; Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, to explore cost-effective and environmentally friendly use of pheromone traps for mirid insect control by small-scale, organic cocoa farmers, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, for exploratory work in sensitising farmers about need to use organic fertilisers and composting to improve soil fertility, productivity and farmer incomes.

University of Cape Coast, Ghana, School of Agriculture, also received a grant to develop participatory learning approaches encouraging farmer adoption of artificial cocoa pollination, significantly improving productivity, yield and long-term sustainability then another went to Conservacion y Desarrollo (CyD), Ecuador, to implement an innovative "education tour" approach to promoting knowledge sharing among farmer associations, helping improve production, incomes and overall quality of farm community life.

Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana also received one, to benefit women and women's groups economically by disseminating knowledge about quality potash and soap production from cocoa pod husks.

Report further says that over next 12 months, award recipients will test and validate proposed innovations.

The World Cocoa Foundation's challenge grant programme was first announced on 18 July at its Cocoa Innovations Symposium, where more than 70 experts representing cocoa producing countries, farmer organisations, research institutes, NGOs, international donors and industry reviewed labour-saving technologies and production efficiency, farm safety, education and community development, as well as monitoring innovative approaches and evaluating their impact and suitability for scale-up. Funding for grants was provided by USAID, MC Publishing, GTZ, Mars Incorporated and World Cocoa Foundation, it says.

Established in 2000, WCF is a leader in promoting economic and social development and environmental stewardship in 15 cocoa-producing countries around world. With nearly 70 member companies from the Americas, Europe and Asia, Foundation actively supports a range of farm-level programs harnessing sustainable agriculture practices to improve quality of life for millions of smallholder farmers growing this unique crop.

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