Selected journalists from media houses in the Western Region have been trained ahead of an enrolment exercise expected to start in the Region to enrol cocoa farmers on the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme (CFPS).
The journalists, who were mainly into reporting on cocoa and agricultural-related activities in the region were drawn from media houses in Elubu, Aiyinase, Ellembelle, Tarkwa, Wasa Akropkong, Prestea, Dunkwa, Bogoso, Samreboi, Takoradi and beyond.
The training also forms part of a series of publicity and sensitization programmes of the Board of Trustees of the Scheme to rally the support of the media towards the success of the first phase of the enrolment scheduled to start in the region from 31st March to 21st April 2023.
The Chairman of the Implementation Task Force of the CFPS, Mr. Fiifi Boafo at a ‘Meet the Press’ encounter in Tarkwa called on the media to use their agricultural programmes and other platforms to educate farmers on the benefits of being part of the scheme.
He explained that the scheme is secure, operates under the National Pensions Act 2008 (Act 766) and governed by a 10-member Board of Trustees Licensed by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority.
“Interest of cocoa farmers is represented on the Board of Trustees to ensure that the views of cocoa farmers are included in its operations to ensure transparency. There is also a custodian of the fund, which is independent of Ghana Cocoa Board and Government”, he added.
The Ghana Cocoa Board Law 1984 (PNDC Law 81) enjoins the Board to set up the Scheme to provide a decent pension for farmers when they retire from active farming.
Mr Boafo explained further that once a farmer is enrolled onto the scheme, in the next cocoa season, anytime a farmer sells their cocoa, at least 5% of the farmer’s earnings will be deducted at the point of sale through a mobile App while a minimum of 1% of the sale would be added to the farmer’s contribution as COCOBOD’s contribution to the scheme.
He again said opportunity exists for farmers to elect to pay extra from the sales made aside the 5% mandatory contribution.
The pension scheme, he added will operate under two accounts. 25% of the total contribution will go into a Personal Savings Account and 75% into a Retirement Account.
After 5 years of continuous contribution to the scheme, a contributor may apply for a loan from his personal savings.
Although a contributor is eligible to retire from the scheme after 5 years, he/she may decide to remain on the scheme for a longer period to enable him/her to accumulate more for a better pension future.
The Western Regional Manager of the Seed Production Division of COCOBOD (SPD), Mr. Ofei Annoh said there is a well-coordinated stakeholder education programme across all cocoa regions in the country to mobilize farmers to enroll onto the scheme. He urged farmers to support the programme for a better retirement.
Under the phase I of the enrollment, thousands of farmers in fifteen (15) cocoa districts in the Ashanti and Western South regions are expected to be enrolled onto the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme between March to April. The exercise would be scaled up incrementally to ensure that farmers in the remaining 55 cocoa districts in the country are successfully enrolled onto the scheme to enable the full-scale operation of the CFPS.