The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) on the 18th of October held a stakeholders forum with Cocoa Famers and other entities in the Cocoa Industry. The forum which attracted about 140 participants was organised by the NPRA to initiate a formal dialogue to deliberate on how to establish a Pension Scheme for Cocoa Farmers under the 3-Tier Pension Scheme in conformity with section 26(1) of the Ghana Cocoa Board Law, 1984 (PNDCL 81).
Speaking at the forum Mr Hayford Attah Krufi, the Chief Executive Officer of NPRA, 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, informal sector workers would choose to contribute any amount they could afford on regular basis, including arranging of seasonal contributions.
The Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Bright Wereko Brobby commended the NPRA, COCOBOD and all other stakeholders for their relentless efforts towards the establishment of a pension scheme for Cocoa Farmers. He emphasised that, pensions are important component of social protection which forms part of the decent work agenda the government through the NPRA seeks to pursue. Mr. Wireko-Brobby, added that, persons in the cocoa value chain will also benefit from this scheme. This is directly in line with government’s vision of enhancing financial inclusion, one of the key pillars of the formalization process.
The Deputy Minister indicated that, the informal sector which the cocoa farmers form part, is very dear to the country due to its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and job creation potential among others. He said statistically, it is estimated that, the agricultural sector which is a major contributor to Ghana’s economy accounts for 45% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product [GDP], with the cocoa sub-sector alone comprising almost 25% of this total amount. Ironically, this is the category of workers that have been neglected for far too long in our part of the country. Interestingly, it is the contributions of this same group of workers that have put the country at the world stage hence interventions in these areas are very urgent and crucial.
Mr Daniel Aidoo Mensah, the Consultant tasked to put this scheme together in his presentation said everybody needed money to live on at old age when he or she is 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 on his part said, the scheme if successfully implemented would attract the youth to engage in farming and commended the government for the foresight.
In his closing remarks, the CEO expressed appreciation to the Cocoa Farmers whose toil has propelled the country’s economy for many years and urged other informal sector groups and individuals to take advantage of the 3-Tier pension scheme to contribute towards their old age.