The University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) Tarkwa is collaborating with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to use mobile technology to help combat diseases and pests that affect cocoa production in the country.
COCOANET was developed by a group of students of UMaT to, among others, help farmers and field staff identify (diagnose) various diseases and pests, which attack cocoa plants.
This will facilitate the application of the appropriate remedy to the affected crops and reduce the cost incurred in the treatment of cocoa farms.
A delegation from UMaT led by Professor Jerry S.Y. Kuma, Vice-Chancellor, was in Cocoa House, Accra, to discuss how best the two institutions could better develop the application for the advancement of Ghana’s cocoa sector.
According to Mr Emmanuel Asiedu who made the presentation on behalf of the students, most cocoa diseases go unnoticed or are rather detected at a time when the crops have already been devastated. He said the introduction of the application would help ensure a more effective response to extension services, adding that the application is controlled to cater for farmers who cannot speak English, to reach out to agricultural extension officers for assistance.
Commenting on the presentation, Professor Kuma explained that it was imperative to present the idea to COCOBOD to help fight diseases and pests.
The Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo commended the students for the initiative and the university for providing the platform for the students to exhibit their entrepreneurial potential. He said the move would help improve the local cocoa economy in particular, and the world cocoa industry as a whole.
“This is a novelty that couldn’t have come at a better time, considering the challenges the cocoa sector is currently facing in dealing with the disease and pests menace,” he added
Mr Aidoo acknowledged that though the application sought to address some of these challenges, it should be carefully worked on to enable it meet the purpose for which it was developed. “We embrace it. COCOBOD is highly interested in the development of this application to its logical conclusion. We can assure you of our maximum support to ensure that this becomes a success,” he said.
He charged the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, a subsidiary of COCOBOD, to work closely with UMaT to develop and scale up the application for the advancement of the cocoa sector.
When developed, the mobile application, which was developed by five students who emerged as the best innovative minds during the 5th Innovation and Career Fair organised by the University of Mines and Technology in April 2019, will be available on android and all i0S platforms and will also be providing both text and audio formats to cocoa farmers.