Knowledge and perception of Ghanaian cocoa farmers on mirid control and their willingness to use forecasting systems

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Awudzi, Godfred K. ; Asamoah, Mercy ; Owusu-Ansah, Frank ; Hadley, Paul ; Hatcher, Paul E. ; Daymond, Andrew J. (2016)

Annual losses of cocoa in Ghana to mirids are significant. Therefore, accurate timing of insecticide application is critical to enhance yields. However, cocoa farmers often lack information on the expected mirid population for each season to enable them to optimise pesticide use. This study assessed farmers’ knowledge and perceptions of mirid control and their willingness to use forecasting systems informing them of expected mirid peaks and time of application of pesticides. A total of 280 farmers were interviewed in the Eastern and Ashanti regions of Ghana with a structured open and closed ended questionnaire. Most farmers (87%) considered mirids as the most important insect pest on cocoa with 47% of them attributing 30-40% annual crop loss to mirid damage. There was wide variation in the timing of insecticide application as a result of farmers using different sources of information to guide the start of application. The majority of farmers (56%) do not have access to information on the type, frequency and timing of insecticides to use. However, respondents who are members of farmer groups had better access to such information. Extension officers were the preferred channel for information transfer to farmers with 72% of farmers preferring them to other available methods of communication. Almost all the respondents (99%) saw the need for a comprehensive forecasting system to help farmers manage cocoa mirids. The importance of accurate timing for mirid control based on forecasted information to farmer groups and extension officers was discussed.
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