Stakeholders’ forum on cocoa farmers’ pension scheme underway
A day’s stakeholders’ forum to discuss possible pension scheme for cocoa and other farmers in the country is underway in Accra with a call on farmers to come out with inputs to facilitate its establishment.
Section 26(1) of the Ghana Cocoa Board Law, 1984 (PNDCL 81) states that “the Board shall within one year after the coming into force of this Law establish a contributory insurance scheme for cocoa, coffee and sheanuts farmers within the framework of the Social Security Scheme”.
Mr Bright Wireko-Brobby, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, said although that provision had not been possible over the years yet, the government was confident to implement it to give the farmers a comfortable retirement.
It was organized by the National Pensions Regulation Authority (NPRA) and COCOBOD Ghana in collaboration with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to deliberate on how to establish a pension scheme for the cocoa farmers under the 3rd Tier Pension Scheme.
He said the informal sector, which the cocoa farmers formed part was dear to the government due to its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and job creation potential, among others.
“Statistically, it is estimated that, the agricultural sector which is a major contributor to Ghana’s economy accounts for 45 per cent of the country’s GDP, with the cocoa sub-sector alone comprising almost 25 per cent of this total amount,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said: “Ironically, this is the category of workers that have been neglected for far too long in our part of the country”.
He said interestingly, it was the contributions of that same group of workers that had put the country at the world stage hence interventions in these areas were very urgent and crucial.
Mr Wireko-Brobby, therefore, commended the NPRA, COCOBOD and other stakeholders for their relentless efforts towards the establishment of a pension scheme for that category of workers.
He expressed the hope that the discussion would reflect concerns of the cocoa farmers as well as meet the objectives of the meeting.
Mr Hayford Attah Krufi, Chief Executive Officer of NPRA, said they were happy to initiate the formal dialogue and subsequent establish the scheme in conformity with section 26(1) of the Ghana Cocoa Board Law, 1984 (PNDCL 81).
He said provision has been made in the 3-Tier voluntary Personal Pension Scheme to cater for the peculiar needs of workers in the informal sector of the economy.
“This means that farmers, fishermen, tailors, hairdressers, market women and traders, drivers, and other self-employed can participate in a pension scheme which will take care of them in their old age,” he added.
He said under the scheme, the informal sector workers would choose to contribute any amount they could afford on regular basis, including arranging of seasonal contributions.
Mr Daniel Aidoo Mensah, the Consultant of the Scheme, said everybody needed money to live on when they were old and were no more in active service, hence the need to establish a scheme for the informal sector to give them a comfortable retirement.
He said under the Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme, farmers would contribute a portion of their produce while the COCOBOD also top-up with agreed percentage.
The objective of the scheme, he said, was to invest in a long term fund to meet the current and future needs of farmers.
Mr Mensah said members of the scheme would strictly be cocoa farmers with cocoa products for sale and the bonus that government paid to cocoa farmers, part of it would be invested in the pension scheme.
Alhaji Alhassan Bukari, the National Chief Farmer, said the scheme if successfully implemented would attract the youth to engage in farming and commended the government for the foresight.
Some of the challenges facing the farmers include lack of data, inaccurate information in the pass book, use of different Licensed Producing Companies and improper record keeping, which the farmers were advised to correct to enable the scheme to start.