Extend cocoa pension scheme to all farmers - Dr Opoku
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Offinso South in the Ashanti Region, Dr Isaac Yaw Opoku, has urged the government to extend the Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme to cover all farmers in cocoa growing regions across the country to motivate them to “stick to” cocoa farming.
He said extending the scheme, which was piloted in the Western North and the Ashanti regions, would encourage farmers to stop ceding their cocoa farms to other competing land uses, particularly illegal mining and rubber cultivation.
“This will also help our cherished cocoa farmers to enjoy decent and sustainable pension when they retire from active cocoa farming,” he stated.
Dr Opoku made the call when he presented a statement to mark the National Chocolate Day in Parliament yesterday.
This year’s celebration was held on the theme, “Eat chocolate, stay healthy and grow Ghana”.
Dr Opoku said as Ghanaians celebrated the national chocolate day, they must not lose sight of the factors which militated against cocoa production in Ghana.
He said in the 2020/2021 cocoa season, production in Ghana stood at 1,045,500 metric tonnes, the highest production ever in Ghana’s history.
Surprisingly however, he said one year on, production had dropped to 683,268.9 metric tonnes in the 2021/2022 season, representing 34.6 per cent decline.
That, he said, was the lowest production in the country since the 2009/2010 season.
“Mr Speaker, although several factors may account for the sharp decline, principal among them is the effect of illegal mining, popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’.
“Mr Speaker, if the rate of destruction of cocoa farms as a result of galamsey activities is allowed to continue, in no time, our enviable position as the second largest producer of quality premium cocoa in the world will be lost and there will be very little to celebrate in the future,” he said.
The MP indicated that to ensure availability of adequate quality cocoa beans for local processing and export, farmers must be encouraged to adopt the productivity enhancement programmes introduced by the Ghana Cocoa Board in 2017.
He also emphasised the need for soil moisture stress in cocoa farms as a result of climate change to also be addressed.
“Ghana Cocoa Board must endeavour to extend the pilot irrigation programme started in 2017 to cover many more medium and large-scale farmers.
“Mr Speaker, the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana must also intensify ongoing research in the development of drought resistant or tolerant cocoa varieties that suit the marginal cocoa growing areas of Ghana,” the MP added.
Dr Opoku told the House that for Ghana to make gains in its cocoa crop, efforts must be made to support the sustainable production of cocoa and local processing of cocoa beans. “Let us patronise made-in-Ghana chocolate and cocoa products and let us say no to the destruction of cocoa farms for galamsey activities and the pollution of our water bodies which serve as sources of water for irrigation of our cocoa farms,” he added.