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Over 150 executives of cocoa farmer cooperative in the Amenfi East District have been sensitised on the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme ahead of the commencement of enrolment in selected communities in the district under the phase I of the programme.
The enrolment, which started from 31st March is expected to end on 21st April 2023 as part of the roll out plans of the Board of Trustees of the CFPS to enlist all cocoa farmers who have been issued with their Cocoa Cards under the Cocoa Management System onto the Scheme. The farmer executives were met in a farm to discuss the modalities of the pension scheme and its benefits.
The Chairman of the Implementation Task Force, Mr Fiifi Boafo, in an interactive session with the farmers on basic enrolment requirements, lauded the significant roles the farmer leaders towards educating their members and called on them to act as agents if change.
The pension scheme, according to him, is a contributory scheme where farmers contribute a minimum of 5% with opportunity to contribute more. He added that it is controlled by the National Pensions Regulatory Act 766 and governed by a 10-member of Board of Trustees with the interest of cocoa farmers represented on the Board.
The deduction of contribution of farmers would be done at points of sale using a mobile App supported with a software that enables instant alert to be received by contributor on his phone. A 5% deduction on every sale will be done by the Purchasing Clerk who has been mandated by the Trustee while at least 1% on the actual value of sales made would be automatically added as COCOBOD's contribution and the total would be credited to the pension account of the farmer.
Speaking on the continuity and safety of the scheme, Mr Boafo started that PNDC Law 81, 1984 and the NPRA Act 766 are legal instruments that guarantee the safety of the scheme against any ‘attack' whether now or in future.
“I do not anticipate any such attack on the continuity of the scheme since it is insulated from political manipulation by law,” he added.
Two accounts exist under the scheme out of which 25% of the total contribution would be credited to his Personal Account and 75%, to a Retirement Account. A farmer may opt to access a soft loan from the Personal Account, but this does not apply to the Retirement Account.
There is no entry age limit but contributors who sign onto the scheme at ages below 50 years would be eligible to retire at a non-compulsory age of 55. However, regardless of the entry age, after 5 years of good standing on the scheme a farmer is eligible to retire.
Mr Fiifi Boafo further called on farmers who have still not gotten their Cocoa Cards for various reasons to contact the District Office to be assisted in that regard, adding that the card was an essential part of the enrolment process.
“Opportunity exists for farmers who may not be able to enrol during this 2-week period to be captured even after the exercise has ended since we are ready to enrol all farmers to enjoin a decent retirement”, he assured.
He appealed to the farmer representatives to use available means to announce the enrolment exercise to their members by way of their support towards mobilising cocoa farmers to visit the centres to sign on to the scheme.
Meanwhile, plans are far advanced to gradually enrol all farmers in the country before the next cocoa season begins, barring any challenges.
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