The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an organisation promoting
child protection in cocoa growing areas, has said curtailing child labour has
improved immensely in the last few years.
This has been made possible through the Nestle Cocoa Plan Programme, under which farmer groups and other stakeholders in cocoa communities have been mobilised to undertake income-generating activities and community service.
Mr Frank Asuamah Yeboah, Supply Chain Project Manager at ICI, said since 2016, ICI with support from the Nestle programme, had supported more than 1,200 children in formal and non-formal education, reducing the rate of child labour on farms.
He was speaking at an interactive forum to facilitate discussions on how stakeholders were dealing with child labour issues in their communities, at Hwiremoase in the Adansi Asokwa District.
The meeting provided opportunity for district and regional level actors involved in child protection, to interact to increase stakeholders understanding of the challenges, and forge a way to improving child care in those areas.
It was attended by cocoa farmers, cocoa merchants, COCOANET, officials from Nestle Ghana, Regional/District child labour and protection officials.
Mr Yeboah said the NGO provided the kids with school uniforms, bags, books, mathematical sets, vocational training and other logistical needs that facilitated learning and their holistic development.
He said to ease children from working excessively on cocoa farms, a community service group had been instituted made up of trained adult groups working on cocoa farms and charging subsidized rates.
The ICI had sensitized some 4,000 farmers on child labour in the last three years and also provided alternative livelihood support for farmers when cocoa was not in season, he added.
Mr Yeboah encouraged all community structures for addressing child labour issues to be sustained, adding that eliminating the canker was a shared responsibility.
Mr Stephen Darfour, the Ashanti Regional Director for the Department of Children, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said his outfit was working hard in education and sensitization programmes on child labour issues, child neglect and other social vices.
These are taking place in the respective cocoa growing communities.
He explained that through a collaboration with ICI, the Department had organized child labour programmes in five districts in Ashanti including Amansie West, Adansi South, Ejura Sekyedumase, Atwima Nwabiagya and Adansi Asokwa districts.
Mr Daniel Nyarko, the Nestle Cocoa Plan Manager, Ghana, counselled farmers to rally and maintain the status of children after the programme had ended.
He said the Nestle Cocoa Plan, operated on the premise that when farmers were enabled with the right resources and empowered economically, their turn out in per hectare yield would be better for the benefit of the farmer and the industry.
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