The Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalist Association (GARDJA) has underscored the need for the government and the Ghana cocoa sector regulator, Cocoa Board to facilitate steps to operationalize Welfare funds to support cocoa farmers in the Country.
GARDJA has expressed worry over the Ghana COCOBOD’s negligence to prioritize the welfare fund policy as contained in their laws which is meant to support farmers against financial hardship.
Speaking at a workshop on the latest cocoa advocacy initiative by GARDJA in Kumasi, president of the Ghana National Cocoa Farmers Association, Stephenson Anane Boateng highlighted various identified problems that potentially make the work of Small Holder Cocoa farmers challenging.
He lamented the negligence of policy makers to involve cocoa farmers in decisions on cocoa farming activities.
“One major concern by the small holder cocoa farmers is the rate at which policy makers take decisions on cocoa farming activities without involving the farmers,” he said.
He noted that most decisions taken by the policy makers and government representatives on cocoa affairs never address the challenges and concerns of the cocoa farmers who are the bean producers.
“The nation looks down upon cocoa farmers who are bean producers,” he noted.
Mr. Anane Boateng appealled to the government and COCOBOD, to in the interest of cocoa farmers consider the urgent establishment of the welfare fund to ease their suffering.
The Ghana COCOBOD, even though has announced the commencement of the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme for all cocoa farmers in Ghana effective October 1, 2020, GARDJA has indicated that the scheme should properly be rolled out to serve it course.
The Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme.
The scheme is expected to have two tiers; the mandatory to be contributed by the regulator as per law and a voluntary top-up option for the cocoa farmer.
Cocoa farmers would benefit from lump sum payments upon reaching retirement age, monthly pension as well as total disability benefits, with additional benefits to the next of kin upon a members demise.
The National Pension Regulator would be the manager of the Scheme.
Cocoa contribution to Ghana’s economy
Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa beans in the world, after Ivory Coast. Over 800,000 farming families account for the country’s globally celebrated quality cocoa produce.
Cocoa generates about $2 billion dollars annually into the economy of the West African nation and a major contributor to its gross domestic product (GDP).
However, cocoa farmers remain poorer despite their contribution, constantly having to grapple with a low farmgate price for their produce, high labour cost, lack of access to farm input, cheating by cocoa buyers, climate change, among others.
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