1.5 million cocoa farmers to get pension coverage
Government has introduced a new Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme to provide pension coverage for an estimated 1.5 million cocoa farmers.
The farmers, however, will have to make voluntary contributions towards their retirement while COCOBOD makes a supplementary contribution on their behalf.
The pension scheme, which is open to all cocoa farmers in the country, seeks to provide decent retirement income for cocoa farmers for life and offers a lump-sum payment upon retirement among others.
Also, it ensures that cocoa farmers will have a decent standard of living after retirement.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who launched the pension scheme in Kumasi, said cocoa farmers have worked so hard to support the Ghanaian economy for decades and deserved this guarantee a long time.
He said Section 26 of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Law 1984 (PNDC L.81) mandates COCOBOD to establish contributory insurance for Cocoa Farmers.
Before his election, this became one of the key promises to pursue upon assumption of office.
It is in line with this that he said its introduction now is not just in fulfilment of the law but also the government’s plans to improve the living standards of cocoa farmers.
Both the legal and technical framework of the Scheme, according to President Akufo-Addo, has been put in place for the smooth take-off of this all-important scheme.
The Board Chairman of COCOBOD, Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, said Ghana has achieved greater success in transforming the cocoa subsector which adds up to the numerous accomplishments of this government.
He said it has taken committed leadership to introduce this pensions scheme which should have happened some 45 years ago.
He was hopeful that this introduction will motivate cocoa farmers to work even harder.
To ensure the successful rollout of the scheme, COCOBOD is embarking on the collection of data on farmers for the Cocoa Management System (CMS).
The CMS will hold a robust database of all cocoa farmers in the country and track their contributions. It will also facilitate the prompt payment of claims to beneficiary farmers. Cocoa farmers are, therefore, encouraged to register under the CMS in order to be part of the scheme.
The Chief Executive of the NPRA, Mr Hayford Atta Krufi, said the launch of the scheme is timely and most appropriate.
He added that its importance to the socio-economic welfare of the cocoa farmer could not be over emphasised.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto said trustees, from varied and professionally rich backgrounds, were carefully selected to take charge to ensure a successful operation.
With cocoa farmers complaining about their dwindling financial backing, he hoped that the launch of the scheme will brace them in times of financial need and during their retirement.
He said many programmes have been implemented including Cocoa Farm Rehabilitation, National Pruning Exercise and Hand Pollination programmes among others to improve the cocoa subsector.
“All these will lead to high cocoa productivity which ultimately will culminate into improved cocoa revenues,” he said.