Kokoo Pa Farmers Organization, a farmer-based NGO and Child Rights International jointly held a district validation meeting with stakeholders in the implementation of a child labour project funded by UTZ/Rainforest Alliance and dubbed “Yen Mma Daakye Nti” which can literally be translated as “for the sake of our children’s future”.
The Executive Director of Kokoo Pa, Mr. Fred A. Amponsah, advised that as a first step, it is necessary for the government to involve private sector in policy formulation to systematically find ways of putting in place structures for investing in cocoa growing communities and reducing child labour in Ghana.
He also advocated for increased investment in cocoa growing communities as it’s constrained by weak value chain linkages due to uncoordinated actors to boost cocoa production in Ghana. He opined the weak value chain linkages will not help ensure adoption of sustainable farming practices to achieve the economic and social wellbeing of cocoa farmers, their households and communities.
Mr. Fred Amponsah made this disclosure during the district validation meeting of the ”Yen Mma Daakye Nti” project funded by UTZ/Rainforest Alliance and separately held at Nyinahin, Tepa and Kenyase. The project seeks to reduce child labour and child protection issues in five of its seven operating districts by using the Ghana Child Labour Monitoring and System (GCLMS).
On his part the Executive Director for Child Rights International (CRI), Mr. Bright Appiah, who presented the findings from the baseline study to the stakeholders present said parents must support the fight in eliminating child labour in our communities and not solely rely on NGOs and government all the time.
He indicated that the survey helped in identifying cases of child labor and children who are at risk of child labor. Others identified were those under worst forms of child labor such as in child marriage, trafficking etc.
Mrs. Joyce Poku-Marboah, Operations Director for Kokoo Pa stated that the child labor project forms part of the good social practices which is one of the pillars on which sustainable cocoa production hinges. She further explained that since cocoa remains the backbone of the Ghanaian economy every effort has to be made by putting adequate measures in place to protect the interest and future of cocoa farmers.
“The importance of the cocoa sector to the development of the country cannot be over emphasized as evidence abounds in the areas of health, education and infrastructural development. However the interest of the children, who are the future leaders of the nation and successors of our cocoa farms should be protected by keeping them in the classrooms and not on the field during school hours” she said.
She added that for effective implementation of the project, a baseline survey was undertaken as a pre-intervention activity using the Ghana Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (GCLMRS) for the establishment of a household register and implementation of a child labour monitoring system in some selected cocoa growing communities.
“After two years of implementation of the first phase of the project, we want to share our findings (validation of the data collected) with key stakeholders like you and solicit your views and support on the way forward in eliminating child labour in our communities, We believe collectively we can chart a path which builds on our unique strengths in our quest to do this in the communities” she believed.
She revealed that with funding from UTZ/Rainforest Alliance 146 school going kids identified from 30 cocoa growing communities would be given basic needs such as school uniforms, school sandals, mathematical sets, Books, Pens, Pencils, Bicycle, Bags and Shoes to help them continue their basic education.
In all the project has trained a three member committee in 218 communities to help in identifying issues that borders on child protection including child labour and educate community members on the importance of keeping their wards at school.
Also present at the district validation meeting on child labour were representatives from the Ghana Education Service, UTZ/RA, GARDJA, DOVSSU, Social Welfare and some senior officials of the Nyinahin and Kenyase district Assembly.
By: Nana Yaw Reuben Jnr