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To overcome the state of uncertainty after active service, the Afosu Area Cocoa Farmers Association in the Birim North District of the Eastern Region has appealed to the government to institute a pension scheme for cocoa farmers to free them from poverty in old age.

That, they say, could be done by deducting premium contributions from their sales proceeds to sustain the scheme.
Addressing a news conference at Afosu, Mr. Martin Larbi, the Chairman of the Association, said the need for such a scheme has been critical in cushioning farmers after active service.

In September 2014, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) announced plans to institute a pension scheme for cocoa farmers by indicating that a contract was going to be awarded for the collection of data of cocoa farmers to be used for a pension scheme. Dr. Francis Baah, Eastern Regional Manager of COCOBOD, who made the announcement at the first Regional Ghana Cocoa Platform Plenary workshop at Koforidua, noted that the pension scheme had been on the drawing board for some time but had to be suspended due to lack of database to determine the right persons who qualified to benefit from the scheme.

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But the Afosu Farmers Association says the establishment of the scheme is long overdue, because its absence continues to adversely affect aged farmers and create a state of uncertainty for the aging ones.

The cocoa farmers’ pension scheme is to cater for aged cocoa farmers whose hard work contributed to the sustainance of the cocoa industry which remains the backbone of Ghana’s economy.

Among other things, the association also called for an increase in the producer price of cocoa to help attract the youth to the sector.

The Afosu cocoa farmers also asked for the use of electronic scale instead of the “clock face” scales currently being used to weigh cocoa, which could easily be tampered by purchasing clerks.

They suggested that the main cocoa season should be from early August instead of October in order to reduce farmers’ dependence on loans from middlemen and purchasing clerks who in many cases cheat them in the end.

In addition, the association requested for cocoa pods be sold to farmers who want to nurse their own cocoa seedlings and the reduction of price of spraying machines to enable farmers to purchase them.

They called for increase of allowance for spraying gang members who are currently receiving GH¢ 70 each to motivate them to do effective work, noting that hitherto such workers were attracted to illegal gold mining and

pleaded for free medical care for  members of the  spraying gangs .
Also, they called for the provision of cocoa extension officers with motorcycles so that they could visit farmers periodically on their farms.

ADR Daily Newsdesk/adrdaily.com