Cocoa farmers at Anomawobidi and Wassa Manso in the Mpohor and Ahanta West Districts of the Western region, have welcomed a pension scheme project being piloted by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
Launched at New Edubiase in the Ashanti Region in August 2021, the scheme when operational, would target about 800,000 registered cocoa farmers benefitting from a retirement plan to promote their lives.
A separate engagement was held between the farmers and Mr Fiifi Boafo, the Head of Public Affairs, COCOBOD, at Anomawobidi and Wassa Manso, to discuss the modalities, processes of registration, and benefits for farmers under the Cocoa Management System.
Some of the farmers, who spoke with the Ghana News Agency, said they were “really in love” with the initiative which would give them relief in their old age.
They, however, wished that COCOBOD would institute prudent management systems that ensure the sustainability of the scheme no matter which government was in power.
Mr Vincent Fynn, a cocoa farmer pleaded that a school policy be activated along with the scheme, to enable the farmers to access scholarships for their children’s education.
“We have many brilliant children here, but due to the lack of finances, many of them cannot climb higher on the educational ladder…we really need directions and assistance to end the cycle of poverty among rural farmers like me,” he said.
Mr Benedict Ghansah, another farmer, complained about the poor road network, lack of potable water and electricity in the Anomawobidi community and stressed the need for COCOBOD to redeem their promise to help address the situation.
Giving further details of the scheme, Mr Boafo said a five per cent contribution would be deducted from every bag of cocoa sold at the depot, after which the government and COCOBOD would add one per cent to support the scheme.
“For example, if a bag of cocoa is GHS800, five percent will give you GHS40.00 and this is what is set aside for it to grow so that at old age you will benefit from a lump sum,” he explained.
He said the fund was regulated and bounded by law and no government could change it.
He further indicated that the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), had already developed the modalities with nine trustees in place to ensure the prudent management of the scheme.
The goal was to provide life security for organised cocoa farmers during their retirement age, giving them a year-on-year withdrawal benefits to help meet some pressing needs.
“Each contributor is also entitled to a lump sum and monthly benefits at the ripe age of the scheme, and we are using the cocoa registration card as basis for membership, and you should be a cocoa farmer to benefit from the programme,” he said.
Additionally, the cocoa card is what would be used for the distribution of farms inputs and called on farmers who had not yet registered, to do so on time.
He said the tier 3 Pension Scheme was managed by Trustees to ensure transparency and good governance and encouraged the farmers to sustain the enthusiasm demonstrated for the successful rolled out of the scheme.