Annual losses of cocoa in Ghana to insect pests are significant. The use of integrated pest management (IPM) tools is critical for effective pest management. Previous studies on the subject have considered how farmers perceive the economic impact of insect pests on cocoa. These studies however did not investigate farmers’ ability to identify pests, associated damage symptoms and their implications for pest management. The current study, therefore, assessed farmers’ ability to correctly associate insect damage with the pest species that caused it. A total of 600 farmers were interviewed in the Eastern, Ashanti, Western, Brong Ahafo and Central Regions of Ghana with a structured open and closedended questionnaire. Most farmers (>85%) were unable to correctly identify and associate pests to their damage. The majority (>80%) of farmers also could not link the immature stages of insect pests to their adult stages. Wrong identification of the major pests (>85%) led to a wide variation in the timing of insecticide application amongst farmers. The majority of the farmers (60%) interviewed had not received training in insect pest identification. The study shows that 90% of the farmers, who had received some training, got it from the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD). Almost all respondents (98%) agreed that correct pest identification is critical for effective pest control. The importance of pest identification and monitoring as a component of IPM is discussed.
The authors are grateful to the staff of CRIG (Entomology and Social Science and Statistics Divisions)and the Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) for their contribution during the administration of the questionnaire and data entry. The authors are also grateful to Dr. Owusu Domfeh (Plant Pathology Division, CRIG) for proofreading the manuscript. We also wish to acknowledge the help of Mr. Nkroma Y. Dankwa for generating the map of the study sites. This paper is published with the kind permission of the Executive Director of CRIG (CRIG/03/2020/ 009/005).
The authors have declared that no conflict of interests exist.
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