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Ensuring Comfortable Retirement: Cocoa Farmers Get Pension Scheme

On December 1, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo launched a pension scheme for the country’s 1.5 million cocoa farmers.

The pension scheme, which will enable cocoa farmers to make voluntary contributions towards their retirement, while the COCOBOD makes a supplementary contribution on behalf of the farmers, will also enable the farmers to live decent lives in their old age.

The scheme will be managed by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), and it forms part of the efforts by the government to sustain interest and revamp the cocoa sector.

The scheme will guarantee a decent retirement income for cocoa farmers for life, while ensuring decent livelihoods after retirement.

36-years waiting

The launch of the scheme was pursuant to Section 26 of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Law 1984 (PNDCL 81), which mandates COCOBOD to establish a contributory insurance for cocoa farmers.

For almost 36 years, the law has not been activated, until President Akufo-Addo practicalised his belief, commitment and determination to improve the living condition of the farmer laying the golden eggs, bringing in over $1.2billion as foreign income.

And so, it was a matter of joy and excitement among cocoa farmers, when the government, in collaboration with COCOBOD and the NPRA teamed up to set up a Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme to support gallant farmers enjoy a decent pension.

Life after service

A successful life after active service is determined by how well a worker prepared during the active work lifetime and that is when a pension comes in handy to the worker to cushion him/her, when the regular monthly income seizes to flow.

So, a pension scheme is a must for a comfortable life after active service and this is what these farmers lacked even when the Act was passed 36 years ago.

The launch of the scheme is not only timely, but welcoming.

It will encourage the farmers to be committed, and also entices more youth to nurture the interest in cocoa farming, since they would be guaranteed financial security in the future.

That is why all cocoa farmers are encouraged to sign up to the scheme to enjoy the full set of benefits offered.

The initiative, described as one of the most decisive pro-poor agro intervention programmes, by the government, will also ensure that the farmers maintain a good standard of living after retirement.

Government’s plan

Launching the scheme, President Akufo-Addo said there were millions of cocoa farmers across the country, who were responsible for the production of a crop, that had, for over a century, been the mainstay of the economy of the country.

The president said the 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.”

The absence of a guaranteed decent retirement income is a major disincentive to the youth into farming in general.

This is because farming is an energy-sapping enterprise, with the potential of weakening the farmer within a relatively shorter time, unlike office work.

That is why such a move should be extended to cover farmers of the selected six other cash crop farmers under the newly established tree crop development authority (TCDA) and ultimately gradually cover all other farmers as a way to motivating them to redouble their efforts of producing more food and other cash crops to make agriculture truly the tool for transforming the economy.

Insurance package

The onus is on the agricultural extension officers to sensitise farmers to develop the habit of putting something away at the end of every farming session, as a form of insurance for the future.

Currently, there are a number insurance packages by the various insurance companies that take care of people in their old age and the farmers should be encouraged to patronise such schemes.

For now, many of the youth are hesitant in going into farming because, there is no future when they grow old and are unable to farm any more.

Personal pension

Thankfully, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has the voluntary contribution scheme for those not under any employer-employee relationship and farmers can patronise this.

There are also other licensed trustees for personal pension schemes that farmers can sign up to as a type of pension plan where they personally contribute towards their retirement.

A personal pension scheme can be considered as a private investment plan to cater for one’s future.

The good thing is that the personal pension schemes allow contributors to determine where their pension money must be invested.


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EU threatens to ban cocoa from Ghana over galamsey-induced land degradation

The European Union (EU) is threatening to ban cocoa from Ghana if the negative impact of illegal mining on the country’s environment persists.

Making a presentation at the ongoing National Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining in Accra today, April 15, 2021, the Deputy Chief Executive in-Charge of Agronomy and Quality Control at COCOBOD, Dr. Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh, expressed fears about the impact of the development on Ghana’s cocoa sector.

Currently, Ghana exports 80 percent of its cocoa to the European Union.

But Dr. Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh said immediate action must be taken to avert the possible sanctions.

“As we speak, EU is threatening to ban Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, to impose legislative instrument restrictions on the importation of cocoa from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to their courts.”

He said the EU is taking this course of action because areas shown in satellite images to have been forested in the 70s and 80s in Ghana have all experienced land degradation in the decades since.

“When you take the satellite images, you will see those places in red. The EU thinks that all those places are red because cocoa is causing land degradation [in Ghana], meanwhile, it is as a result of the galamsey activities.”

He further raised concerns about the devastating effects of the galamsey activities on the production of cocoa in Ghana and its exportation.

“The impact of these mining activities on cocoa production is enormous. There is crop loss, reduction of crop yield and income, loss of vegetation, the fertility of the crop soil is destroyed and [there’s also] an early dropping of immature pods, as a result of the chemicals that they use,” he lamented.

In January 2021, the European Union announced that it will contribute €25 million to enhance the economic, social and environmental sustainability of cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon who are, respectively, the first, second and fifth-biggest cocoa producers, generating almost 70% of the world production.

This funding is to strengthen the partnership between Team Europe (composed of the EU, its Member States, and European financial institutions) and the three cocoa-producing countries and aims at ensuring a decent living income for farmers, halting deforestation and eliminating child labour.


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Environmental Justice Foundation decries money lost in Ghana’s fishing sector

File photo

The Environmental Justice Foundation says the government of Ghana loses between US$14 million and 23 million annually in the trawl sector.

The Foundation attributes the revenue losses to low licence fees in the sector as well as poor punitive regime for fisheries-related infringements.

This was contained in a research that showed that nine out of every 10 fishing trawlers operating in Ghana are beneficially owned by the Chinese.

Fisheries Programmes Manager of the Environmental Justice Foundation, Socrates Segbor, in an interview with Citi News said, the government needs to address fronting for foreign trawl companies by locals.

“We could potentially be generating about $14.4 million annually if we were targeting this beneficial ownership. If we were targetting the beneficial owners then the right amount of fine imposed, if the vessel is forced to pay such penalties after investigations have confirmed that indeed they have committed this crime, that will be deterrent enough to prevent others from indulging in such illegalities or irresponsible fishing practices. This will subsequently be helping to reduce the overall irresponsible fishing practices that are happening across the various sectors of the marine fishing sector.”

Meanwhile, a former Executive Secretary of the Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association, Richster Nii Amarh Amarfio, says the report must be discredited.

He makes the point that the Environmental Justice Foundation is not a credible organization to publish such reports.

“I want to believe that the credibility of the Environmental Justice Foundation will first have to be called into question. Their first letter inviting industry players to the launch of their first book was signed by someone who was in the UK. They claim that people are fronting but why will a British sign a letter inviting people to a meeting of a report that was done in Ghana by a company going through equity without a cleaner.”

“From that day, I told their leaders that until they stop fronting for us to talk as Ghanaians, I will always have issues with what they come out with. As we talk, the EU is on our neck saying they want free access to our water bodies. So basically what I am saying is that, the report is not credible because they have not spoken to the people they are talking about”, he explained.


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Tamale: 50 Shea-based cosmetic processors trained on labeling & standard compliance

Tamale: 50 Shea-based cosmetic processors trained on labeling & standard compliance
Some of the participants at the seminar

Fifty Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) engaged in shea-based cosmetic processing in the northern cluster have undergone capacity-building training on labeling and standard compliance in the Tamale Metropolis.

The training was organized by the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) with funding support from the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP)-Ghana, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nation’s Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The training in collaboration with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) through the WACOMP-Ghana Sub -Contracting Matching Scheme is the second of its kind, geared towards increasing the quality of the shea-based cosmetics products that are marketed for local and international consumption.

Mr. Charles Kwame Sackey, the Chief Technical Advisor of WACOMP-Ghana, said the sub-contracting matching scheme in support of the training is to help ensure the cosmetic producers understand the registration process and related requirements by GSA and FDA as they seek to grow their domestic market share and export their products to the international market.

 “This will, in turn, strengthen the export competitiveness of local producers through enhanced value-addition, low carbon emission, sustainable production and processing, and an increased access to regional and international markets,” he said.

Mr. Sackey also reminded the SMEs of the opportunity the African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCTA) offers and why they must always produce to meet the required quality standards.

Mr. Prince Nunoo, Membership Manager of Global Shea Alliance (GSA), said the alliance will continue to support shea -based SMEs to be sustainable and reiterated that the collaboration between WACOMP-Ghana and GSA will continue to help scale-up businesses in Ghana.

Mr. Martin Kusi, the Northern Regional Director of the FDA, commended the organizers for the initiative, stating that poor labeling and packaging represents one of the biggest challenges for shea-processing SMEs in the region, as it affects the marketability of their products.

 “Most of the local entrepreneurs are seen producing ineffective labels without batch numbers, manufacturing dates, location address and other relevant details. This makes it difficult for GSA management to certify the products for the market,” he said.

Mr. Charles Kuranchie, Chief Quality Assurance officer at the GSA, stressed that it is an offense to put products on the market without preapproval by the FDA and GSA. He added that there are severe legal repercussions for breaching this directive.

Source:3 News

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