GAWU to introduce ‘afrobarometre’ to check child labour in cocoa farming

Andrew Tagoe, Deputy General Secretary-GAWU

The General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of Trade Union Congress (TUC) is set to release a social strategic instrument (an Afrobarometer-type) to measure the extent of child labour involvement in cocoa production, at both the community and farm levels.

It will be used to assess the level of child labour at the various stages of cocoa production, to better inform national policies aimed at eliminating child labour in the cocoa industry. The soon-to-be-launched instrument was developed by GAWU, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and other international partners.

The Deputy General Secretary of GAWU, Andrew Addoquaye Tagoe who disclosed this to B&FT said: “The social measurement instrument is one of the multifaceted approaches the Union uses to address child labour in cocoa production. GAWU has been promoting child labour-free zones in cocoa-growing areas. It is possible for a cocoa household or community to be child labour-free.

“The social measurement tool will help us to identify the places with child labour prevalence, and we prefer socially-integrated sanctions like naming and shaming. The concept of child labour-free zones can help tackle the menace with the involvement of all stakeholders; fighting child labour in cocoa production is a shared responsibility. All hands must be on deck to ensure that our cocoa is free from children’s sweat.”

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Child labour has over the years been identified as a cancerous issue sullying cocoa production in the country. Industry watchers have described the practice as a symptom and a self-perpetuating cause of poverty. Some households in cocoa-growing communities face realities of rural poverty, and some parents have little choice but to put their children to work and keep them out of school to reduce labour costs on family farms. This eventually deprives children of the opportunity to develop themselves, thereby entrenching the household’s impoverishment for subsequent generations.

Mr. Tagoe was speaking on the sidelines of Odomaseman Cocoa Farmers’ Cooperative’s launch at Odomase in the Sunyani West Municipality of the Bono Region. He urged farmers to uphold the national campaign, indicating that it will be very difficult to make any headway if the primary actors fail to cooperate.

He added that child labour statistics in cocoa production should be of concern to all, saying: “One out of every five children is involved in child labour, of which over 70 percent happens in agriculture”.

In a related development, GAWU has presented assorted items to two basic school in cocoa communities of the Sunyani West Municipality. The items included sets of football and netball jerseys, footballs, exercise books and beverages. The beneficiary schools were Kwatri M/A Basic School and Adetia R/C Primary School.

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The Project Coordinator of GAWU, Dorcas Owusua, said they want to leverage sports to sustain the children’s interest in school activities so as to discourage them from engaging in child labour. She continued that the sporting activities, coupled with other programmes like movie shows, also aim at sensitising the communities ahead of introducing the child labour ‘Afrobarometer’.

GAWU is in a partnership with the Netherlands Trade Union to promote decent work in the cocoa supply chain. Implementation of the four-year project, she indicated, involves a number of activities to drum-home the message – and these include using sporting activities to win children into schools. The project implementation covers Eastern, Ashanti and the former Brong-Ahafo Regions.

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