Home » COCOBOD CEO Debunks NDC’s Claim of Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Fund

COCOBOD CEO Debunks NDC’s Claim of Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Fund

by Victor Adetimilehin

The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana’s Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has dismissed the claim by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the former president John Dramani Mahama established a pension fund for cocoa farmers.

Ghana is the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa, after Ivory Coast. The crop is a major source of income and livelihood for millions of farmers in the country. The government sets the producer price of cocoa every year, based on the international market price and other factors.

The government announced a 28% increase in the producer price of cocoa for the 2023/2024 crop season, from GH¢10,560 ($1,814) per tonne to GH¢13,500 ($2,321) per tonne. The government said that the increase was aimed at improving the living standards of cocoa farmers and boosting their productivity.

The debate over the cocoa farmers’ pension fund reflects the importance of cocoa in Ghana’s economy and politics. The fund is intended to provide social security and retirement benefits for cocoa farmers, who often lack formal insurance schemes. The fund is also seen as a way of rewarding and motivating cocoa farmers for their contribution to national development.

In an interview with Asempa FM, a local radio station, Aidoo said that the alleged fund was only a book entry and not a real account. He challenged the NDC to show evidence of where and when Mahama paid the seed capital of GH¢28m ($4.8m) for the farmers’ pension. He explained that the fund was created in 2011, when Mahama was vice president, but no money was ever deposited into it. He said that the current government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has set aside GH¢74m ($12.7m) for the same purpose, but that amount is also not readily available.

The issue of the cocoa farmers’ pension fund has become a hot topic in Ghana’s political discourse, following the recent increase in cocoa prices by the government. The NDC’s National Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi, accused the government of neglecting the welfare of cocoa farmers and claimed that Mahama had left behind a pension fund for them.

Gyamfi cited the 2020 Auditor-General’s report as evidence of his claim. However, Aidoo said that the report only confirmed that the fund was a ledger entry and not an actual account. He said that the COCOBOD had not invested the amount in any trust, as required by law.

The COCOBOD CEO said that his outfit was working hard to implement the pension scheme for cocoa farmers as soon as possible. He said that the scheme would be transparent and accountable, unlike what he alleged was done by the previous administration. He expressed hope that the scheme would enhance the welfare and dignity of cocoa farmers in Ghana.

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