Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has reported some people suspected of getting a number of children involved in cocoa production to the Ghana Police Service.

The suspects were seen in a Joy News documentary to be involved in these acts and the police have since made arrests in the Ashanti and Western North Regions.

In a press briefing held at the Cocoa House in Accra to address the issue, the Senior Public Affairs Manager of COCOBOD, Mr Fiifi Boafo, said COCOBOD takes very seriously any report that portrays a child of school-going age as having engaged in activities on a cocoa farm which could be construed as child labor.

He said the arrested suspects and other persons of interest identified through the documentary are currently being investigated by the police.

“We shall similarly alert the police to any other cases which come to our attention for the persons involved to be apprehended and prosecuted,” he emphasized.

Zero tolerance for child labor

Mr Boafo said that COCOBOD and the government have taken a strong stance against child labour of any kind and condemn any act which undermines efforts aimed at ensuring sustainability in the cocoa industry.

He noted that though the zero-tolerance stance of the government and COCOBOD, and various anti-child labour sensitisation drives and programmes have made the practice of child labour a rarity in cocoa production in Ghana, the documentary shows that there are yet some criminal elements set on defying the government and undermining the serious efforts of COCOBOD to eradicate child labour in cocoa production.

“We want to send a strong caution to any persons who may be involved in these acts to desist from undermining the industry which forms the backbone of this country,” he stated.

Anti-child labor interventions

Mr Boafo said the government and COCOBOD have over the years, introduced various anti-child labour programmes and interventions to sanitise the cocoa industry. These include the implementation of the child labour free zones concept, the training of labour inspectors/officers on child labour issues, the free senior high school programme to keep more children in school, the capitation grant, and the school feeding programme.

Other interventions put in place by COCOBOD include the mainstreaming of anti-child labour education into 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 will improve on child labour monitoring and remediation system put in place in the cocoa sector.

In addition to that, COCOBOD also introduced and distributed to all cocoa-growing communities, the 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 (farmhands) to work on cocoa farms.

He assured all stakeholders that COCOBOD remains resolute in its efforts to ensure that child labour in any form within the cocoa value chain is eradicated.

He also recognised the effort of NGOs, civil society organisations and the media in ensuring sustainability and called for closer collaboration and consolidation of efforts to eradicate child labour.

Source: Ghana Web

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