In a story we carried in the Tuesday edition of The Chronicle, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has begun a sensitisation exercise to register Ghanaian cocoa farmers on to a pension scheme.
The exercise is a three tier scheme and would be under the supervision of the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA).
Whilst the farmers would contribute a minimum of five percent anytime they visit cocoa sheds to sell their produce, COCOBOD, on the other hand, would contribute one percent in support of the scheme.
At a sensitisation exercise at Tarkwa, Wassa Manso, the Head of Public Affairs of COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo, explained that the importance of the scheme was to ensure that farmers benefit from their contribution to the economy.
He went on to say that since most cocoa farmers were beyond the ages of 50 years, the arrangement was such that those beyond that age would contribute for a period of five years, after which they would be entitled to reap their contributions.
The Chronicle is excited about the news of the pension scheme arrangement that COCOBOD has put in place for the welfare of the Ghanaian cocoa farmer.
Giving the readiness of the farmers to have the scheme rolled out, The Chronicle has no doubts about the sustainability of the scheme in question.
We believe the introduction of the pension scheme is long overdue, considering the contribution cocoa farmers have made in the economy, particularly in the area of foreign exchange.
If the government, through COCOBOD, has decided to set up a pension scheme to cushion cocoa farmers during their retirement age, then it is welcoming news.
However, in as much as we are excited about the arrangement, we will like to advise COCOBOD to tread cautiously and make sure every bottleneck that could hamper the smooth operation of the scheme is removed.
Most particularly is the five percent contribution that cocoa farmers would be paying into the scheme anytime they visit cocoa sheds to sell their produce.
What this means to The Chronicle is that COCOBOD would deduct five percent of the farmer’s sale at the shed, as their contribution to the scheme.
In an industry where most cocoa farmers are believed to be uneducated, we are advising COCOBOD to put in a mechanism where it would have on its database the total number of cocoa farmers who sell their produce at a particular cocoa shed in a particular community.
This will help in the auditing of the contributions from one shed to another, giving the total number.
So, in the event one or two contributions are not forthcoming, COCOBOD could easily trace to find out why. We are raising this concern because we cannot trust individuals who would be put in charge at the various cocoa sheds to do the deduction on behalf of the cocoa farmers for COCOBOD.
Again, we believe COCOBOD could do better by adjusting its one percent contribution in support of the scheme. In formal employment, the employers bear the greater contribution, because they make profit. It is not in doubt that COCOBOD is making huge profits from the sweat of the Ghanaian cocoa farmers.
COCOBOD’s desire to introduce a pension scheme for cocoa farmers is long overdue, and the time to act is now!