National Pensions Regulatory Authority grants exemption to support the cocoa sector (Ghana)

By Staff | Business & Financial Times, Ghana December 21, 2016

The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) has increased the per issuer limit of the PBC Limited’s one year Fixed Rate Callable Note from 5% to 10% under the category of eligible bonds.

The increase is to allow the pension funds to start impacting on the development of the country.

Section 6.3 of the Guideline on Investment of Pension Funds provides that a maximum of 30% of Corporate Bonds/Debt may be invested in Pension Fund Assets. Up to 5% of pension funds assets can be invested in eligible bonds, REITs, MBS and debenture of any corporate entity.

In view of the aforementioned Section, registered pension schemes are allowed to invest 5% of their Assets Under Management (AUM) in the PBC Limited’s Note.

With this approval, pension schemes can invest up to 10% in the Note as approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

This approval has been granted for the current cocoa purchasing season only and therefore expires at the expected maturity date of the note.

In Ghana, the cocoa sector is at a turning point where it needs revitalization and modernization to make it more competitive, resilient and robust.

Cocoa production is Ghana’s largest agricultural activity, accounting for eight percent of the country’s GDP and supporting approximately 30 percent of the population.

Twenty-two percent of the world’s cocoa comes from Ghana, and the global demand for cocoa is rising at three percent per year. Yet the country risks a decline in its national cocoa production, due to the aging population of cocoa farmers, in combination with poor access to information, technology and climate smart agricultural techniques.

Fortunately, this creates a tremendous opportunity for Ghana’s young people. Youth are driving change in the sector by employing new systems of production and introducing technology.

The adoption of sound agricultural practices and the right planting materials can increase productivity up to 300 hundred percent.

This was the focus of the discussion at a recent panel hosted by The MasterCard Foundation at the African Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.

The panelists also highlighted the need to shift the perspective from agriculture as a subsistence activity and lifestyle to agriculture as a business. One panelist, Joseph Yaw Bosempeng, a young cocoa farmer, drove this point home when he stated clearly, “I am the manager of my farm.”

Major barriers to youth participation in the cocoa sector include access to land and financial services.

In Ghana, where interest rates are 36 percent, access to credit is prohibitive. To address the issue of land, one solution shared was to rehabilitate older and/or abandoned cocoa farms.

Panelists also emphasized that it wasn’t enough to make the cocoa sector profitable – young cocoa agripreneurs need mentoring and coaching as well, which they can obtain through programs run by organizations such as Solidaridad, who are part of the Youth Forward Initiative.

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