The Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has announced that his outfit has completed all processes required to launch the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme, pending presidential approval.
The scheme will be managed by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), and will establish a new system that aids cocoa farmers to benefit from a pool of funds when they grow old.
The move, according to Mr. Aidoo, is also aimed at formalising the activities of cocoa farmers to make agriculture attractive to the youth.
“We want to make farming attractive to young people, especially the youth in order to encourage them to venture into farming in general,” Mr. Aidoo said after the Ghana Cocoa Coffee and Shea Nut Farmers Association (COCOSHE) paid a courtesy call on him.
He added that the Pension Scheme will help cocoa farmers to sustain their farms even after death for the benefit of their families.
Mr. Aidoo explained that the initiative is being pursued to minimise all the risks associated with farming, and also remove the perception that farmers die poor.
“Farming is not for the poor,” he said, adding that the government is poised to change the narrative so as to encourage graduates to enter farming.
To make the system robust in the future, Mr. Aidoo said COCOBOD will soon roll out a new management system to gather the bio-data of all cocoa farmers in the country.
This, he stated, will also capture the land size, the number of cocoa trees, and soil fertility levels of all cocoa farms in the country in a single data pool.
He pointed out that the exercise will give COCOBOD an opportunity to streamline and evaluate all activities of farmers to better serve them.
“This will give COCOBOD the power to measure the output of cocoa farms and issue cards to farmers to help them sell their produce electronically.”
He disclosed that COCOBOD has already reached out to the Office of the Vice President to help the cocoa regulator digitize the sale of cocoa beans from farmers.
“When this is done, cocoa farmers will not have to walk long distances to sell their cocoa and receive cash. The system will enable another group to pick the beans at the farm, and then the farmer will receive a text message of payment into their accounts,” he said.
Mr. Aidoo was hopeful the president’s office will soon announce a date for launching the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme.
Presenting 100 tubers of yam and a ram to Mr. Aidoo as a sign of appreciation for establishing the Living Income Differential, the President of COCOSHE – Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, appealed for the government to quickly approve the pension scheme so it can come into force.
He praised the government for the cocoa rehabilitation programme that is being implemented in the Western North and Eastern Regions, stressing that it has restored hope to cocoa farmers.
“We have seen other programmes such as the irrigation projects, which were piloted on some farms, proving that we cannot depend on rain-fed agriculture anymore,” he said.
He added that the 28.2 percent upward adjustment in cocoa price this year demonstrates the government’s commitment to improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.