The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has justified its decision to contribute 1 percent top up to the cocoa farmers’ pension scheme.
Per the arrangement, a registered cocoa farmer is required to make 5 percent mandatory pension contribution of his or her produce into the pension scheme, while COCOBOD pays a minimum top up contribution of 1% of the farmer’s produce on behalf of the farmer.
However, some stakeholders in the cocoa sector have described COCOBOD’s contribution to the scheme as woefully inadequate.
Reacting to the development, the deputy chief executive in charge of operations at COCOBOD, Dr Emmanuel Opoku, noted that the regulator does not have the financial muscle to go beyond the 1 percent. He stated that the COCOBOD is already paying for a lot of components which is benefiting the farmer.
“Already we are paying 87% of the producer price for cocoa… Now the crop protection chemical and then the fertilisers, then all the other components we get to the farmer is coming from the same resources, so the best is what we are giving out now.”Dr Emmanuel Opoku
Mr Opoku explained that COCOBOD, as an institution, does not operate with a profit motive. He therefore, called on the cocoa farmers to bear with the institution as “COCOBOD does not make profit”.
Mr Opoku lauded government’s efforts in the cocoa sector. He recalled the upsurge in cocoa output last year. He noted that last season’s output is now the record in the country’s more than 100-year history of cocoa production.
Mr Opoku added that it is also the second time in a decade that output has crossed the one million tonne mark, after averaging 700,000 tonnes since the 2010/11 cocoa season. He however, credited the government for the gains made in the sector, while calling on the government and all stakeholders to play their roles to maintain the momentum.
“As we celebrate the crop farmers, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), the government and all stakeholders in the cocoa production value chain for the feat achieved, it is critical to ensure that adequate measures are put in place to sustain the production momentum towards moving us to the two million-tonne space.”Dr Emmanuel Opoku
Cocoa Farmer’s pension scheme
The Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme is a regulated scheme sponsored by the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Government of Ghana for the sole benefit of registered cocoa farmers and their beneficiaries. The scheme aims at ensuring a decent pension for cocoa farmers, improving their welfare and making cocoa farming attractive to the younger generation for the sustainability of the cocoa sector.
The institution of the Cocoa Farmer Pension Scheme is in fulfilment of provisions in the Ghana Cocoa Board Law 1984 (PNDC Law 81) which enjoin the COCOBOD board of directors to establish a contributory insurance for cocoa farmers.
The scheme is also in line with a broader goal to improve living standards for cocoa farmers in Ghana. It intends to provide a suitable retirement income to the farmers so that they can maintain a decent standard of living after retirement.