Designing, establishing and managing a Cocoa Orchard (Five day short course for farm managers, technicians and trainers)

Pre-requisites: No pre-requisites.   The students may elect for an apprenticeship module at the end of the course.

Course description: The course involves principles and practices of designing a cocoa orchard as a departure from traditional cocoa production systems with the objective of improving yield, reducing cost of production by implementing mechanised solutions towards maximising profits. The course will provide an introduction to the biology and growth physiology of the cocoa tree; principles of selecting appropriate varieties/ propagules; the agro-ecology of the production region, determining suitability and appropriate management imperatives (discussion); introduction to cocoa soils, suitability and principles of soil fertility management; soil testing and interpretation of the results (practicals); principles and practices of designing a cocoa orchard (practicals).  Land preparation, terracing and developing appropriate drainage and irrigation/ fertigation infrastructure (practical).  Principles of selecting shade tree species/ companion crops, their establishment and smart shade management.  Lining, preparation of planting holes, and establishment of cocoa (practical).   Structural pruning to establish an orthotropic or plagiotropic canopy and maintenance pruning to control height and improve light interception (practical).   Establishment of pollination niches, and management practices to prevent pest and diseases (practical).   Approaches to controlling, weeds and moss growth on trees (practical).  Principles and best practices in harvesting and cushion management.   There will be a field trip to visit various model farms and planting designs.  At the end of the course, the students will be able to establish a modern cocoa orchard and manage it to maximise profitability.

Resources: Field trip to farms, training at the IFCIC cocoa orchard, printing services and office support. Provision of breaks