Pension scheme for retiring cocoa farmers in the offing

Government is considering instituting a pension scheme for ageing cocoa farmers, Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has revealed

“We are working with the  National Pensions Regulatory Authority, (NPRA )to introduce a pension scheme for cocoa farmers- work on this is far advanced and we expect another round of presentation by the NPRA before we submit it to Cabinet for approval, the Vice President told a meeting of players in the cocoa industry in Accra to mark the 20th anniversary ceremony of Olam Ghana Cocoa; an agro-commodity company.

Research shows that over 1million cocoa farmers who make up 60percent of the country’s agricultural base, majority of whom are over 50 years, has prompted government to consider instituting a pension scheme to take care of their future needs.

“It is very important that a pension scheme for cocoa farmers is put in place so that once they retire they will have a source of income” he said.

Today, the average cocoa farmer in Ghana is over 50 years old – an advanced age in a country where the average life expectancy is just 62 years and cocoa is produced by means of manual labour, hence the Vice President reckons it is critical for government to initiate it.

Furthermore, the Vice President also stated that government has directed Cocobod to ensure that starting next year, all fertilisers acquired must be from local companies which will save the country some foreign exchange.

“Your achievements and continuous investments in the country is a demonstration of the confidence the company-Olam has in our resilient economy”, he said

The cocoa industry has played a crucial role in Ghana’s socio-economic development and remains an important source for employment and revenue generation for cocoa farmers.

Country Head of Olam Ghana, Amit Agrawal, stated that the company is committed to remaining a critical business partner in Ghana.

The Global Cocoa Head, Gerard Manley, indicated that the company is harnessing the power of digital tools such as the Olam and Farmers Information Systems to protect farmers, enhance cocoa quality and improve the livelihoods of cocoa growing communities.

He also added that the company this year has mapped out sourcing centres in order to identify areas at high risk of deforestation. “We are working with officials of the national parks to identify farms within protected areas in order to remove all such farms from the supply chain”.

A Deputy CEO of Operations for Cocobod, Dr.Emmanuel Opoku, said that the living differential income for cocoa farmers will soon be developed into a law- so that for every cocoa sold 70percent of proceeds will go the farmers.

He also urged cocoa farmers to adopt fertilizer, pruning and pollination as best practices to enhance their cocoa business.

The overlord of Akyem-Abuakwa Traditional Area, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, urged government to decentralize to ensure effective development and also added that the country will grow if investments are made in farming.

The ceremony also saw Olam Ghana launching educational funds for 10 communities including Sefwi Wiawso, Sefwi Anhwiaso, Akyem Tafo,Olam Wa-Naa,Tetrete, Olam Joseph Antwi Memorial,Olam Denkyiraman,Tepaman and Kwao Boadi Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Compound. Each educational fund will get a seed capital of GH₵50,000, officials of Olam announced.

Additionally, 20 communities selected across the country will also benefit from a water project under the auspices of Olam Ghana.

Olam Cocoa is the largest originator of cocoa beans in the world-it buys over one million tonnes globally,as well as one of the world’s largest cocoa processors, with processing plants in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa.