There is a need for a multi-sector partnership approach to reduce and eliminate child labour in cocoa farms across the country – with a supportive attitude rather than punitive measures, a cocoa value chain analyst, Eliseus Opoku-Boamah, has suggested.
Mr. Opoku-Boamah said though players and stakeholders in the cocoa sector and chocolate industry are playing their parts in ensuring that the menace is curbed, the challenge still persists; and this requires a stakeholder approach that should be supportive rather than punitive.
Child labour and hazardous work within the Ghanaian cocoa value chain remains a challenge. Players and stakeholders in the cocoa sector and chocolate industry are aiming at ensuring responsible cocoa sourcing and seeking to set up an effective Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS) which are supportive rather than being punitive.
There are global efforts under sustainability programmes aimed at establishing a supportive and integrated CLMRS wherein cases of child labour are identified, remediation strategies are deployed, and through monitoring and follow-up visits the support provided will result in long-term solutions which encourage child development.
Despite the above efforts to tackle the issue, Mr. Opoku-Boamah said cocoa stakeholders must unite the forces in the sector – liaising with civil society organisations, farming communities, media, government, international and donor organisations to build capacity through a robust CLMRS to identify, prevent, monitor and remediate child labour in the cocoa supply chain.
He also indicated that there is a need to coordinate the various existing sustainability initiatives which seek to address the issues and challenges of child labour, and draw meaningful and practical lessons and experiences for implementation.
Identification of the strength and weaknesses and making recommendations, Mr. Opoku-Boamah said, will assist in carrying out an effective and robust CLRMS in the cocoa value chain.
Going into the future, Mr. Opoku-Boamah explained stakeholders must conduct risk assessments to evaluate the level of risk that exists in cocoa farming households and prioritise communities where the risk is high.
“Stakeholders must also collect data and management systems, and implement effective human rights due diligence processes, support community-based investments and development programmes designed to address the root causes of human rights issues in areas of women empowerment, education and income – including the training and awareness creation to increase knowledge on the concept of CLMRS,” he said.