Ghana’s 2010-2011 cocoa harvest may be between 700,000 and 750,000 metric tons of beans as farmers increase use of fertilizer and disease-preventing crop spray, according to the board that oversees the industry.

The Ghana Cocoa Board is making insecticide and fungicide available to farmers and trying to speed up the rate at which it provides them with spraying machines, said Yaw Adu-Ampomah, deputy chief executive of the board, known as Cocobod.

“We will make sure they get there on time in the upcoming season,” Adu-Ampomah said in a phone interview from the capital, Accra, today.

Nana Kwasi Ofori, a 52-year-old farmer from Assin Nyankumasi in the coastal Central region, said he doesn’t solely depend on the board’s spray to cover his 40-acre (16-hectare) farm.

Ofori said in an interview Aug. 4 that he curbed the spread of black pod rot, a fungus that spreads among trees during times of heavy rainfall and minimal sunshine, reducing the prevalence on his farm from 10 acres to eight. He said he expects to increase production to 512 bags during the harvest, from about 414 during the 2009-2010 season, which usually runs until September.

Ghana’s cocoa harvest during the October-to-June main crop was around 590,000 tons, Cocobod Chief Executive Officer Tony Fofie said June 14. Another 50,000 tons may be produced during the light crop which opened June 25, he said.

In April, Cocobod offered a 57 percent subsidy on fertilizer to farmers in an attempt to widen its use and boost cocoa production.

“Fertilizer application is helping to increase yield,” said Nana Adjei Damoah, a 66-year-old operator of a 20-acre farm at Wamanafo, in the northwest Brong Ahafo region. Damoah said Aug. 4 that his farm will likely produce between 27 and 29 bags of cocoa during the 2010-2011 season, from about 24 during the current harvest.