Bringing out the value of the child on our cocoa farms

This is a call for action and intentionality to bring out the value of each child on cocoa farms in Ghana.

Children are a gem to any society. There is therefore need to devote effort to unearth the worth in every child. The value of children if properly harnessed, will first benefit them and entire societies. This article, quite similar to my other writings discusses options available to society, particularly stakeholders in cocoa industry in bringing out the value of each child on cocoa farms.

The Child on the cocoa farm and the implications

Children who are present on farms in Ghana are usually in the care of farmer parents. In most farming communities, children spend after school periods on farms and may sometimes assist parents with farm work. More so, some families in rural Ghana have their homes attached to their farms hence children from such communities live on the farms and may eventually mature into adults on farmland.

However, concerns may arise from likely implications of keeping them on the farms. This includes poor school attendance and child labour. The resultant effects of these concerns are possible exploitation of children, exposure to hazards and poor formal education; which are all detrimental to the development of the child.

Child Labour, an effect of children working on farms has over time necessitated collaborated efforts from governments, international cocoa companies, cocoa advocacy organisations and cocoa communities. This is in a bid to reduce and eventually prevent its occurrence and effects. The child’s presence on the cocoa farm should not pose as a menace to them or the community. Rather efforts should aim at bringing out the value of each child on our cocoa farms.

What is the value of a child?

Individuals create value in themselves through knowledge acquisition and exposure to different work environments. Some embrace challenging work experiences to enhance self-worth and personal value. Similarly, businesses actively improve their systems to provide quality products and service. Such activities are attempts to offer value to the customers. Businesses additionally focus on increasing value for shareholders to retain investments.

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Credit: utz.org

Accordingly, value of a child refers to the child’s worth or potential. This is what carves a unique identity for them. Value if nurtured, enhances quality of life and offers a secured future. Unlike value in monetary terms, a child’s personal value is intrinsic and intangible. Education, knowledge acquired through training and skills transfer, health & physical fitness, desirable moral & behaviourial attributes, are all factors that reflects the value in a child.

A perspective on bringing out Value in children on cocoa farms

Access to Education and Training

Access to education is the first necessity to bring out the value in each child on cocoa farms. Article 28 of the UN Convention on the rights of a child provides that every child must have access to education. Like-wise children on cocoa farms are no exception and must have basic education. Work on the farm should not replace schooling. Hence, the child can assist with work on the farm outside school times.

Sensitization exercises should get farmer parents to understand the essence of education in this modern day. It is important to give education to the next generation of cocoa farmers, to enable them embrace 21st century farming practices for better soil and trees management, and higher crop yields.

Also, the nature of practices introduced to children who help out on cocoa farms in Ghana is another concern. As per our culture, children normally assist parents with farm work. Farmers must be familiar with, and adopt safe farming methods. This necessitates training and development in best practices for cocoa farmers. The essence is to avoid exploitation or exposure to hazardous farm practices such as handling of dangerous chemicals or equipment, carrying heavy objects, etc.  Rather use the opportunity to train the child on acceptable farming methods.

Access to Health Care and Women Empowerment

Additionally, in bringing out the value of the child on cocoa farms, health and physical well-being is equally important.  Health facilities must be readily accessible to offer good quality healthcare to children when needed.

A previous article discusses women empowerment and child labour. Again, women have an important role to play in bringing out the value of children on cocoa farms. Interventions must adequately equip women to embrace and step into the role of nurturing desirable behaviour patterns in children.

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Ultimately, the presence of the child on cocoa farm should be positively impacting. Instead of abuse and exploitation, it should be a time of learning and exposure to acceptable farming practices. A means to bring out the value in children on cocoa farms. In effect, farmers would train such children to fill the wide generational gap and succeed them in cocoa farming.

Hence, this calls for greater awareness and education of cocoa farmers in cocoa communities. The responsibility is on Government, Cocobod, cocoa community leaders and international stakeholders to champion this call

Interventions by CocoaAction

CocoaAction is a voluntary strategy launched in 2014. The strategy is a collaborated effort of the world’s top chocolate companies, governments of Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana and other cocoa stakeholders. CocoaAction’s vision is to build “a sustainable and thriving cocoa sector” which creates prosperity for farmers, empower cocoa growing communities, conserve the environment and ensure respect for human rights

The strategy’s framework inculcates child labour prevention, provision of primary education, and women empowerment to promote respect for human rights, and growth of cocoa growing communities. By 2020, the strategy aims to impact 1200 cocoa communities in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire with positive interventions including the following; increased numbers of basic schools, enhanced abilities and prospects for women, reduced child labour and sustainable child protection measures.

CocoaAction’s objective to protect children from exploitation and provide schools in cocoa communities are notable actions that will eventually bring out the value of children cocoa farms. There is certainty that the strategy has made remarkable strides with less than a year to hit the 2020 timeline.

A call for greater awareness and action is necessary to unearth the value of each child supposedly working on cocoa farms.

Author’s Profile

Amma is a management consultant with M-DoZ Consulting based in Ghana. She has several years of industry and consulting experience and served companies in various industries in the area of strategic planning, policy analysis and industry research. Email on amma.antwi@ghanatalksbusiness.com

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