The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has assured that it will take legal actions against farmers who use child labour on their farms to avert a boycott of Ghana’s cocoa beans on the international market.
Ghana’s international cocoa buyers have in the past threatened to boycott Ghana’s cocoa if school going-age children are engaged to work on cocoa farms. COCOBOD, in collaboration with the police and other stakeholders, have in past worked to eliminate this perennial problem.
However, an investigative report titled ‘Children in Cocoa Labour’ by Kwatey Nartey – a Joy News journalist, has shown that the practice still goes on in some parts of the Western North and Ashanti Regions.
Responding to the situation at a press briefing, the Communication Manager of COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo, warned that COCOBOD will not spare farmers who engage the services of children on their farms – to protect Ghana’s enviable position as the leading producer of premium cocoa beans in the world. According to him, “Any case of child labour has a negative impact on the country’s reputation on the international stage”.
Mr. Boafo stated that strict enforcement of Ghana’s laws helped eradicate the services of child labour on cocoa farms in the past – making it now an uncommon practice among farmers. “That notwithstanding, the documentary shows there are yet some criminal elements set on defying government policy and undermining the serious efforts of COCOBOD to eradicate child labour in cocoa production.”
Mr. Boafo disclosed that the issue has been reported to the police, as unearthed in the Joy News documentary. He added that the police have already effected some arrests in the Ashanti and Western North Regions. “We shall similarly alert the police on any other case related to child labour that comes to our attention, for the persons involved to be apprehended and prosecuted.”
Policies to end child labour
Outlining some government policies aimed at ending child labour over the years, Mr. Boafo said the introduction of various anti-child labour programmes and interventions to sanitise the cocoa industry have yielded great results.
“These include but are not limited to implementation of the child labour free zones concept; the training of labour inspectors/officers on child labour issues; harmonising the Ghana Child Labour Monitoring System (GCLMS) with the Child Labour Monitoring System (CLMs); the formation and training of district/community child protection committees; the Free Senior High School programme to keep more children in school; and the capitation grant and school feeding programme,” he said.
He added that other interventions put in place by COCOBOD include the mainstreaming of anti-child labour education into our extension delivery services; the anti-child labour sensitisation programme in cocoa-growing areas; the pursuit of remunerative income for farmers to be able to afford adequate adult labour and farm sustainably; and the Cocoa Management System (CMS), which is targeted at improving the child labour monitoring and remediation system put in place in the cocoa sector.
Mr. Boafo stated that COCOBOD has also introduced and distributed to all cocoa-growing communities dual-purpose motorised pruners and slashers as a means to mechanise the otherwise labour-intensive aspects of cocoa farming; thereby reducing the need to hire labour for work on cocoa farms. “We also recognise the continuous efforts of NGOs, civil society organisations and the media, who work in the sustainability space helping to expose these crimes.”