The Ghana Cocoa Board has announced the full implementation of the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme (CFPS). The first phase of the programme is being rolled out in 15 cocoa-producing districts and has already enlisted 90 per cent of cocoa farmers.
For a start, the scheme is being rolled out in 15 cocoa districts in the Ashanti and Western-North regions and would be expanded to cover all 70 cocoa districts in the country eventually.
It is expected to improve the welfare of cocoa farmers in the country and also encourage the youth to venture into cocoa farming.
Speaking at the press conference to brief the media about the exercise, which is currently ongoing in the Ashanti Region, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of CFPS, Daniel Aidoo Mensah, said so far, all the cocoa farmers had fully embraced the scheme and had enrolled onto it.
He said about 90 per cent of all registered farmers in Obuasi, New Edubiase, Antoakrom, Juaso, Nyinahin and Bekwai had enrolled on the scheme within the first five days that the registration started.
“This is an indication of the willingness of farmers to enjoy a decent pension. We, therefore, encourage other farmers who are yet to visit the enrolment centres to go and enrol to be part of this historic exercise,” he said.
Per the COCOBOD Law 1984 (PNDC Law 81), all cocoa farmers must enrol on the scheme to secure their retirement.
As part of the requirement, the farmers are expected to contribute five per cent of the total sale of their cocoa as their contribution to the scheme, while the government through COCOBOD contributes one per cent of the total sales of cocoa for the season to the scheme.
The government’s contribution would be shared on a pro-rata basis, depending on one’s contribution to the scheme.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, explaining who was eligible to join the scheme, said all one required was to be a registered cocoa farmer under the Cocoa Management System (CMS), which he said had now become a requirement for one to be able to sell one’s cocoa beans in the country.
The CMS is a database of all cocoa farmers in the country who have been issued a card known as the Cocoa Card which allows them to sell their beans.
It helps the board to trace the beans and also tailor interventions specific to the needs of farmers.
Mr Mensah said there was no age limit for one to enrol as this scheme was more of a non-formal one and fell under the tier three pension scheme.
However, he said one would have to contribute for a minimum of five years before retiring and young farmers, would have to reach the age of 55 years before they could decide to retire from the scheme.
A Deputy Director of Public Affairs of COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo, appealed to the media to support the scheme by using their platform to educate the farmers on the need to enrol on the scheme and enjoy the inherent benefits.
He said the success of the programme would largely depend on the support from the media and urged the media to lend a supporting hand to the scheme to ensure that the over 800,000 cocoa farmers in the country joined.
SOURCE: DAILY MAIL GH