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A pension scheme for cocoa, coffee and shea farmers has been finalised and would be launched before the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has said.
He said all the necessary arrangements and documentations had been completed, paving the way for the scheme to take off.
He explained that a board of trustees had also been constituted to administer the scheme that would operate as a contributory venture.
He said what was left now was for COCOBOD and the government to set a date for the official launch of the scheme.
Mr Aidoo made this announcement last Tuesday when the executive of the Ghana Cocoa, Coffee, and Shea Nut Farmers Association (COCOSHE) paid a courtesy call on him at the Cocoa House in Accra to congratulate him on his recent award in Ivory Coast.
The visit was also to commend the COCOBOD CEO for his efforts to get the producer price of cocoa increased for the 2020/21 season.
He said the scheme, which would be managed by the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA), would not only care for cocoa farmers when they retired but would guarantee the sustainability of cocoa production in the country.
He said it would achieve this by attracting the youth into the cocoa farming business.
The CEO also stated that COCOBOD would soon roll out a cocoa management system (CMS) which sought to access the biodata of cocoa farmers.
He said the biodata would afford COCOBOD the opportunity to streamline operations and cater for the welfare of farmers.
Under the system, he said COCOBOD would measure the acreage of each cocoa farm and that identification cards would be issued to farmers before they could market their farm produce.
The President of COCOSHE, Mr Alhassan Bukari, for his part, congratulated the CEO on his recent award.
“We have been informed that the award is specially reserved for individuals who have distinguished themselves in service to the Ivorian people.”
“We are also aware that the award was conferred on you by President Alassane Ouattara and is in recognition of your lead role in a series of painstaking negotiations culminating in the realisation of the Living Income Differential (LID) of $400 extra amount on every tonne of cocoa sold by the two countries.”
“We cocoa farmers celebrate this extraordinary accomplishment you have earned and also laud you for the current visible evidence of progress in your resolve to transform the cocoa industry into a lucrative business venture,” he said.
He said the farmers also commended Mr Aidoo for supporting the government’s decision to increase the producer price of a bag of cocoa.
“This demonstrates COCOBOD and government’s strong commitment towards improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in the country,” he stated.
Alhaji Bukari said the association had not lost sight of the various productivity enhancement programmes (PEPs) that COCOBOD was implementing to support farm yields and was also grateful for that.
He said the mass pruning and hand pollination programmes, for instance, had increased yields and incomes of farmers tremendously.
“Our farmers today can live dignifying and decent lives in their communities.”
“Under your leadership, 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 noted.
He said the cocoa rehabilitation programme with its incentivised packages, currently being implemented in the Western North and Eastern regions, had restored hope in cocoa farmers.
He said the beneficiary farmers had, some time back, deserted their hamlets and farms because of the destruction caused by cocoa swollen shoot disease (CSSVD).
“We are happy to inform you that most of these farmers who abandoned their farms and migrated to the Brong Ahafo Region have returned to their farms,” he said.