Ghana Cocobod would soon award contract for the collection of data of cocoa farmers to be used for a pension scheme.
The cocoa farmers’ pension scheme is to cater for aged cocoa farmers whose sweat and hard work contributed to the cocoa industry which is the backbone of Ghana’s economy.
Dr Francis Baah, Eastern Regional Manager of Cocobod said this when he addressed participants at the first Regional Ghana Cocoa Platform Plenary workshop at Koforidua, which was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Ghana Cocoa Platform (GCP) is designed to engage all stakeholders in the cocoa industry on the same platform to deliberate on issues and problems affecting cocoa farmers and collectively make inputs to guide policies affecting the cocoa industry.
He explained that, the cocoa farmer’s pension scheme had been on the drawing board for some time but had to be suspended due to lack of a database to determine the right persons who qualified to benefit from the scheme.
According to Dr Baah, the database was critical since the cocoa farming sector had peculiar issues such as the identification of landowners of cocoa plantations and the real cocoa farmers and the agreement between the two.
This was important, because, most cocoa farmers in the country were mostly tenant farmers and the differences had to be established to ensure that the right cocoa farmers were identified to benefit from the scheme.
Dr Baah who is also the Executive Director of the Cocoa Health Extension Division (CHED) said, 50 million cocoa seedlings has been released by his outfit to be distributed to cocoa farmers whose plantations have been attacked by diseases.
Dr Baah said so far, about 165 million cocoa trees have been identified to be infected with diseases nationwide and out of that, 50 million trees had been earmarked to be cut off and indicated that, field potters had been trained for that as well as in identification of diseases that farmers may not know.
Mr Antwi-Boasiako Sekyere, Eastern Regional Minister, said cocoa farming played an important role in the national economy and therefore to ensure its sustenance, more youth must be motivated to join the industry.
He urged the Cocobod to institute measures that would attract the youth into cocoa farming.
The forum discussed issues on the adjustment of cocoa weighing scales by purchasing clerks, access to subsidized fertilizers, cocoa mass spraying exercise and deteriorating roads in cocoa communities which were all affecting the growth of the industry. GNA