Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA), a cocoa farmer-based organisation, has commended the decision by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to introduce a new policy to provide support services, farm products and inputs to cocoa farmers through their registered cooperatives.
The new policy, according to a release issued in Accra, said for farmers to be recognised by COCOBOD, they must come together to form an identifiable group, create a documented record of their membership and then be registered with the Department of Cooperatives, which has the mandate of registering farmer groups into cooperatives.
It said the move by the board was to ensure more efficient and timely delivery of such products and services to all cocoa farmers across the country.
The release said cooperatives would then work on behalf of their members for their mutual benefits and become eligible for the direct sourcing of assistance on the farms, agrochemical, implements and extension services from COCOBOD.
It said during an interaction with some cocoa farmers in the Ashanti Region, the Executive Secretary of the CAA, Mr Eliseus Opoku-Boamah, said the new policy was not only limited to improving yields and productivity but would also serve other important purposes.
The release said Mr Opoku-Boamah mentioned for instance that the decision came at the right time since that would reduce the difficulty farmers went through in accessing funds to support their farming businesses.
He said cooperative unions were important to cocoa farmers because they strengthened the farmers’ bargaining power and helped them survive volatile markets.
“Cooperatives help establish and maintain trustworthy relationships with financial institutions and this will give them easier access to loans,” the release said.
He cited the example of cocoa farmers who registered with the CAA?and enjoyed benefits such as professionalisation of the farmers, modern extension delivery services, training and capacity building, social interventions through support and remediation systems that address child labour and child protection issues.
Abrabopa Pension Scheme
The release said Mr Opoku-Boamah encouraged women and the youth to be active participants in cocoa farming and urged them to enrol on the Cocoa Abrabopa Pension Scheme (CAPS), a pension scheme designed to address the financial and income security in times of retirement, disability and deaths.
He said the CAPS had been tried and tested as a sustainable programme and many other initiatives introduced by the CAA towards improving the livelihood of cocoa farmer communities.
Mr Opoku-Boamah appealed to relevant stakeholders in the cocoa value chain and called for a reliable partner with CAA to provide interventions - including social and financial - to farmers who wanted to organise themselves.
Cash premium on certified cocoa
The Chairman of the CAA, Mr Ismail Pomasi, said recently, the association launched the payment of the certification premium payable to members for the 2017/18 season.
For that season, he said, a total of GH¢2,798,515 was paid as premiums to CAA-certified members who brought their cocoa to CAA designated warehouses.
“In all, a total amount of GH¢265,948 was paid as premiums to the farmers in the Essem-Debiso operational area with the highest and second-highest groups of farmers receiving an amount of GH¢47,878.00 and GH¢25,981.00 respectively,” he said.
The release said Mr Pomasi told the farmers that the CAA?had over the years been committed to the quick payments of premiums to her members and it was, therefore, necessary that other cocoa farmers took the opportunity to join cooperative unions.
He said the CAA was currently funding the construction of 25 mechanised boreholes in selected operational areas in Ghana, adding that the beneficiary communities for the borehole construction were Cannan in the Bia West, Karlo and Karma in the Bia East of Western North Region.
At the ceremony, the release said the Bia West District Chief Executive Officer, Mr John Koah, described the CAA as an epitome of a good cocoa farmer-based organisation worthy of emulation.
He underscored the significant roles being played by the CAA in ensuring improvement in the lives of cocoa farmers through sustainable cocoa production.
The DCE?expressed joy about the Cocoa Abrabopa Pension Scheme and praised the management of the CAA for such an initiative, which he said would curb the age-old poverty among cocoa farmers. “I urge all cocoa farmers to join and contribute to the Cocoa Abrabopa Pension Scheme so that you can have a comfortable retirement,” he said.
For his part, a cocoa farmer, Mr Yusif Suleman from the Brong Ahafo Region and member and regional representative, said the best decision that a cocoa farmer could make was to join a cooperative union, adding that his association with the CAA had had a tremendous impact.
He urged his colleague cocoa farmers to adhere to all the CAA standards and advised other farmers to refrain from the diversion of cocoa beans to neighbouring countries.