he Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) has called on the Ghana COCOBOD, the agency responsible for Ghana’s cocoa industry, to as a matter of urgency set up the Farmers’ Welfare Fund.
The Farmers’ Welfare Fund, according to GARDJA, would help provide some sort of financial reliefs for the poor cocoa farmers and their families in the country.
According to GARDJA, the Ghana COCOBOD Law, 1984 (PNDC Law 81) that established the agency tasked it to establish a contributory insurance scheme for cocoa, coffee and sheanuts farmers within the framework of the Social Security Scheme.
That, the association notes, for about 36 years since the establishment of COCOBOD, the Farmers’ Welfare Fund still remained on a paper without its being implemented.
Delivering a presentation at a stakeholder forum in Accra last Thursday, [August 27, 2020], the Deputy General Secretary of the association, Mr Joseph Opoku Gakpo, said the establishment of the Farmers’ Welfare Fund as enshrined in the law that established the COCOBOd would transform the lives of many cocoa farmers in the country.
He was of the view that the Farmers’ Welfare Fund would, among other things, provide the opportunity for cocoa farmers to access financial credit with flexible terms of payment.
He explained that due to hardships, many cocoa farmers mortgaged their farmers to individuals in order to get some financial assistance, a situation he said the Farmers’ Welfare Fund could have prevented.
Mr Gakpo noted that the establishment of the Farmers’ Welfare Fund was not optional to the COCOBOD and that it was mandatory for them to do so, explaining that the fund was to be “funded with 10 per cent of COCOBOD’s net profit every year.”
He expressed the worry that “One in every four cocoa farmer lives on about GH¢18 a day,” a situation he described as worrying considering the efforts cocoa farmers commit to their work.
GARDJA is a member of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, and has a mission to inform, educate and influence publics and policy makers for better policies and programmes in the agricultural, environmental and rural development sectors of Ghana.
The association in collaboration with Send Ghana, an NGO, and Rainforest Alliance, has rolled out a new cocoa advocacy initiative dubbed: “GARDJA’ Cocoa Sustainablity Project”, which is aimed at helping to create a sustainable cocoa value chain in the country.
The initiative, among other things, will assist journalists and media practitioners to ensure increased media focus on agriculture and related sectors, particularly on cocoa in the country.