Mr. Ebenezer Kwakye, Administrative Secretary In charge of the Pension Scheme for Cocoa Farmers has encouraged cocoa farmers who are yet to register with the cocoa farmers’ pension scheme to as a matter of urgency do so to ensure that difficulties encountered by farmers in accessing credit facilities are addressed.
He observed that it is obvious that farmers found it difficult to access credit facilities from financial institutions and in some instances if granted, the interest rate is very high which made it difficult for most farmers to pay back.
The situation, he indicated invariably led to default on the part of farmers in the repayment of such loans.
Cocoa farmers experience extreme poverty in Ghana, amid the immense contribution to the development of the country and the West-African sub-region. Cocoa Barometer (2015) posits that farmers in Ghana earn about 85 cents a day, and Ivorian farmers, 50 cents.
Mr. Ebenezer Kwakye said to reduce the challenges that farmers go through, the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA) which is through ACT 766 mandated to ensure Retirement Income Security as well as regulate Pensions through effective policy direction to secure income for the retired and the aged in Ghana, has decided to come with the cocoa farmers’ pension scheme to save them from their financial problems before extending the service to other Farmer-Based Organizations (FBOs).
Speaking in an interview with Captain Adabugar during the Akuafo Sesen segment of the morning show to educate cocoa farmers on the benefits of registering with the Pension Scheme of Cocoa, Mr. Ebenezer enumerated a number of benefits which members of the scheme enjoy.
The scheme, he explained runs two types of savings; thus, Savings and Retirement.
Explaining the Savings scheme, Mr. Kwakye noted that this involved cocoa farmers who save with the saving scheme which granted them access to loans and the liberty to pay in installments at a very low rate.
On the Retirement scheme, he explained that this involves members saving for the future with the cocoa pension scheme to save them from the financial constraints which they could possibly suffer at an old age together with their families.
He disclosed that so far, three thousand (3,000) cocoa farmers across the country had registered with the scheme and were enjoying the benefits, adding that the situation had encouraged those who were yet to get registered to do so to safeguard their future.
Ghana’s cocoa Farmers are paid the basic income of raw cocoa seeds (GH¢ 475 per kilo bag of beans). Farmers are disadvantaged because the produce in its raw state has less value compared to the finished product.
Secondly, farmers are mostly at the receiving end with the fluctuation and price volatility of the cocoa price on the world market. As the prices of cocoa fall on the international market, the burden is pushed onto the farmer, reducing his/her income amid a Price Stabilization Fund established by COCOBOD.
As farmers work throughout the years, they are most vulnerable in times of old age. This is because the incomes earned over time may have been spent on the upkeep of their families.
In this regard, there have been calls by cocoa farmers in Ghana on the government to institute a pension scheme to manage contributions towards a secure future. This menace threatens the sustainability of cocoa farming in Ghana.
An instituted pension scheme for farmers will not only take care of cocoa farmers after 60 years, but it will guarantee the sustainability of cocoa production as the youth will be attracted to continue the cocoa legacy and pride.
The time is now, for us all to galvanise momentum in supporting private sector endeavours in contributing to pensions for cocoa farmers in Ghana.
The contributions of cocoa production to Ghana’s economy has been phenomenal. In order to complement and reward the efforts of cocoa farmers, there is the need to institute interventions, including pension schemes that will contribute to guaranteeing the sustainability of the commodity and ensure continuous contribution to national development.
Source; Prince Paul Amuzuemail@example.com