The much-awaited rollout of the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme is set to commence this month, the Board Chairman of COCOBOD, Mr Peter Mac Manu has announced.
According to him, the trustees and implementers of the scheme would be rolling out from district to district to register cocoa farmers onto the scheme to enjoy the pension scheme’s benefit.
Mr Mac Menu was speaking at this year’s cocoa day grand durbar which also coincided with the COCOBOD 75th anniversary on the theme “COCOBOD @75: sustaining our environment, wealth and health”, held at Suhum in the Eastern region.
He said that, though the past and previous years had been challenging globally with the cocoa sector having suffered greatly, Ghana COCOBOD had not relented on its effort to push for policies that enhanced the welfare of cocoa farmers, assuring that his outfit would continue to be innovative and pragmatic in the midst of the challenges faced.
He said it had been three years since the implementation of the living income inferential, a pricing mechanism spearheaded by Ghana and Ivory Coast to secure a $400 premium on every tone of cocoa sold to be paid directly to the cocoa farmers.
Meanwhile, he said unfavorable market prizes as well as a deliberate attempt by buyers, among others, had undermined the initiative which sought to guarantee a decent income for farmers.
But he promised that his outfit would not relent on ensuring the implementation of the policy as well as reviving dead cocoa farms, adding that collaboration with all stakeholders was underway to ensure the eradication of poverty among cocoa farmers.
For his part, the Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Kwame Acheampong, commended cocoa farmers for their contribution to Ghana’s economy over the past years.
He said the contribution of the cocoa industry to the economy and growth of the country could not be underestimated, adding that cocoa production had by far and largely remained the backbone of Ghana’s economy, contributing significantly to the country’s export, while employing a large number of people as well as support the livelihood of in the value change production.
Mr Acheampong, however, he said though cocoa production had existed in Ghana for years making a positive economic impact, the industry was confronted with the imminent danger of the sale of cocoa farms for illegal mining activities.
The practice, he said if not checked could wipe away all the gains made in the country by the cocoa sector.
He, therefore, called on the chiefs, the cocoa farmers, and the cocoa farming communities to say no to the sale of farmlands for cash to the detriment of their future and livelihoods.
The minister said all efforts must be made to protect the farmlands by encouraging the youth to rather go into cocoa farming instead of indulging in illegal mining so that they could also reap the benefits.
He, therefore, encouraged COCOBOD to strengthen its engagement with key stakeholders for the improvement of the sector.
Also for his part, the chairman for the occasion, Okyehene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin urged COCOBOD to expand its cocoa scholarship scheme to benefit all cocoa farmers across the country.
FROM KODJO DAVID, SUHUM