The Ghana National Cocoa Farmers Association (GNACOFA) has urged government to implement welfare packages for cocoa farmers in the country, including pension and healthcare schemes, to ensure long life of farmers.
That, according to them, would ensure good living conditions of farmers after retiring from active service and also to access quality and affordable health care at their doorsteps, for them to enjoy long life.
The National President of the GNACOFA, Mr Stephenson Anane Boateng said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, during the 2020 electioneering campaign promised pension scheme and quality healthcare for cocoa farmers across the country.
He stated this on Thursday in an interview with the Ghanaian Times, on issues affecting cocoa farmers and the industry in general in the country.
He said the association heard about the pension scheme for cocoa farmers in the media but ever since “we have not seen any action as far as the pension scheme for cocoa farmers was concerned.”
The National President expressed worry about how employees of COCOBOD including District Managers, haulers, transporters, port and quality control officers, and depot keepers enjoyed well – structured pension and healthcare schemes.
Mr Boateng said employees of COCOBOD directly derived their salaries from the farm gate price of cocoa, benefited from cocoa scholarship and clinics, which were meant for farmers, who toiled tirelessly to produce the beans.
“A lot of farmers have replaced their cocoa farms with rubber, cashew and other cash crops because of the poor standards of living conditions among farmers and their families in the country,” he added.
The National President indicated that the youth of Ghana were not venturing into cocoa farming because it was not lucrative, attractive and promising saying that our cocoa industry is on the verge of collapse.
Mr Boateng implored the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), agriculture-related Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) and Non – Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and other stakeholders, to intervene in the plight of poor cocoa farmers.
He stressed that this year’s producer price of GH¢800 per bag, which was sold in the international market at GH¢1,200, was woefully inadequate and unfair adding that the increment was just 23.3 per cent over the previous price.
The National President stated that the cost of production in the cocoa sector over the last three years, has witnessed drastic spikes including 203 per cent on fertiliser, 43 per cent on agrochemicals and 51 per cent on labour.
“Other households expenditure such as food, transport, education, have shot up by 50,104, and 60 percentages points respectively. Five litters of cooking oil now sells at GH¢2, 400,” Mr Boateng bemoaned.
He urged COCOBOD, MoFA and other key stakeholders in the cocoa industry to consider GNACOFA, as a major player in the sector saying that the association must be consulted in decisions and policies concerning cocoa.
FROM EMMANUEL ADU