President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday launched a historic pension scheme for Ghana’s 1.5 million cocoa famers.
Launching the scheme at the Jubilee Park in Kumasi, as part of his three-day tour of the Ashanti Region, the President said the pension is expected to cushion the country’s hardworking cocoa farmers in their retirement.
“The Pension Scheme will enable cocoa farmers to make voluntary contributions towards their retirement, whilst COCOBOD makes a supplementary contribution on behalf of the farmers as well”, President Akufo-Addo pointed out.
This, he explained, “guarantees a decent retirement income for cocoa farmers for life, and ensures that they can maintain decent livelihoods after retirement”.
He said there are millions of cocoa farmers across the country who are responsible for the production of a crop, that has, for over a century, been the mainstay of the economy of the country.
In recognition of their hard work, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) was mandated, under Section 26 of the COCOBOD Law, 1984 (PNDC L.81), to establish a Contributory Insurance Scheme for Cocoa Farmers within the framework of the Social Security Scheme.
This was supposed to make cocoa farmers also enjoy a well-deserved pension, upon retirement.
Unfortunately, successive Governments, for various reasons, were unable to fulfil this, much to the disapproval of cocoa farmers who continued to make demands for the establishment of the “Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme”.
Fortunately, President Akufo-Addo has fulfilled his promise to ensure the farmers got what they deserved.
“As candidate Akufo-Addo, in the run-up to the December 2016 elections, I made a solemn pledge to cocoa farmers that, if the Ghanaian people reposed their confidence in me, and I won the election of 2016, my government would establish the pension scheme for them not just in fulfilment of the legal requirement, but also in line with Government’s plans to improve the living standards of cocoa farmers in Ghana,” he said.
To ensure the successful rollout of the scheme, COCOBOD is embarking on a census to collect data on farmers for the Cocoa Management System (CMS).
“The CMS will hold a robust database of all cocoa farmers in the country, and track their contributions. It will also facilitate the prompt payment of claims to beneficiary farmers”, President Akufo-Addo added.
He entreated all cocoa farmers to sign on to the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme, in order to enjoy the full benefits of the Scheme.
It will be recalled that upon his assumption of office, the President tasked the CEO of COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, to begin to work earnestly with the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) and other stakeholders to set up a Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme to support cocoa farmers enjoy a decent pension.
President Akufo-Addo said, “Through the shared determination and expertise of those I put in charge to ensure the establishment of the scheme, both the legal framework and the technical structures have been put in place for the smooth take-off of this all-important scheme”.