The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has expressed optimism about more youth nurturing interest in cocoa farming following the launch of the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme.
He described the introduction of the Scheme as a laudable idea as it would secure the financial future of the Ghanaian cocoa farmer.
Established in pursuant to Section 26 of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Law (PNDC Law 81), the initiative was described as one of the most decisive pro-poor agro intervention programmes by the NPP Administration.
Dr Afriyie Akoto, who was speaking at the launch of the Scheme in Kumasi, said the Law mandated the Board to establish a contributory insurance for cocoa farmers to enable them enjoy a decent pension.
At the initial stages, some 1.5 million farmers are expected to be rolled onto the Scheme, which amongst others, have the objective of making life better for ageing farmers.
The COCOBOD would make supplementary contributions on behalf of the farmers as they contributed voluntarily towards their own retirement.
The Scheme is to be managed by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), and forms part of efforts by the government acting through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), to sustain interest and revamp the cocoa sector.
“The overall objective is to build more hope in the businesses of the farmer and also give a meaningful future to both the old and the young in society,” he noted.
The Minster indicated that since the inception of the government’s agricultural intervention programmes in 2017, more people, especially the youth, had participated and was hopeful the new Scheme was going to be a big push for the youth as well.
He emphasized on some of the improvements seen in the cocoa sector recently, including; the Cocoa Farm Rehabilitation, National Pruning Exercise and Hand Pollination programmes.
According to the Minister, the government was poised to increase cocoa production substantially, adding that in the past years, cocoa farmers had complained about their dwindling financial backing as they aged.
He commended the government for such a laudable idea of instituting the Scheme to financially support cocoa farmers in their old age.
Mr. Hayford Attah Krufi, Chief Executive Officer of the NPRA, said the Scheme was timely and much appropriate and its importance to the socio-economic welfare of the cocoa farmer could not be over-emphasized, he added.
“Every current worker or employee, both in the informal and the formal sector today, is a potential retiree tomorrow.
“Therefore, the economic security in one’s old-age is an integral part of every individual’s wellbeing,” he observed.