Leaders of Cocoa Cooperatives in Kpando and Vakpo Operational Areas in the Hohoe District of the Volta Region have on 20th July 2022 received training on Cooperative Business School (CBS) and Child Labour at Kpando.
The training, which was organised by Extension Officers in the Area, includes Mrs. Lucy Dagba Extension Officer, Kpando Operational Area Mr. Emmanuel Mawuli Agbezuge, Extension Officer Vakpo Operational Area and joined by Mr. Francis Eshun Extension Officer, Nkonya Operational Area was to equip the leaders of the Cooperatives on CBS and Child Labour in Cocoa farming and navigate how the Cooperatives can use the knowledge of CBS to make their cooperatives self-sustaining and generate good income.
Mr. Emmanuel Mawuli Agbezuge gave a presentation on CBS. Guiding the farmers, a business was defined as any activity (legal) that is able to satisfy a need/wants and provides profit (money). He linked this to help farmers understand that Cooperative Business School is “the needs/wants in the cocoa farming value chain that cooperatives can capitalise on (school) to be able to generate income (revenue).” The CBS, he added aims to strengthen Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) capacities to provide business services to their members by way of capacity building in areas such as market orientations, entrepreneurship, knowledge of value chains, knowledge of good governance as well as economic viability.
Mr. Mawuli Agbezuge added that there are categories of business services that Cooperatives can render to their members. He stressed business services centred on the cocoa value chain, such as Marketing and Labour Services like Cooperative pruning of cocoa, Cooperative Spraying of cocoa, Cooperative Weeding of cocoa, Cooperative Lining and Pegging of cocoa, Cooperative Harvesting of cocoa, Cooperative group purchase of inputs for cocoa, to be able to generate income for the cooperative and make them self sustaining. He used mathematical calculations to demonstrate, why going for group input purchase is better than individual farmers going solo.
To be able to offer business services, he added, five key questions must be answered: What? How? How Often? Which quantity? And Financing. He also expatiated on economic tools such as fixed cost, variable cost, profit margin, group profit, break even and service fee.
Mr. Mwauli Agbezuge further stated further that transparency, strong bargaining power and strong financial position as major elements that will ensure the sustainability of the Cooperatives.
Mr. Francis Eshun made a brief presentation on improving the cooperatives. He narrated a key verse in Ephraim Amu’s ‘Yen Ara Asaase ni’ song which states “Nimde3 ntraso, nkoto-krane, ne pesemenkomenya adi yen bra mu dem” to wit, “bragging of educational achievements, useless greed for material things, and bad lifestyle is destroying our nation”. He said Cooperatives will only work if farmers work on certain behaviours among their members and allow trust, honesty and integrity be the hallmark of leadership. He quoted the adage, “we listen to our ears, not our brothers” to buttress his appeal for leaders to follow law and order in their dealings with members. “Doing what you say you will without giving excuses will build trust.”
Mr. Eshun further stated that cocoa farmers should learn from the Abrahamic principle of giving, which is practiced by Muslims across the world, thus, ensuring that, “ they motivate various pruning and spraying works ongoing in their area”. He encouraged the Cooperative leaders to play an advocacy role in ensuring, problems associated with land tenure systems and excessive litigations among cocoa farmers on lands is reduced so that the cocoa industry can be peaceful for formers to operate. He thanked the Cooperative Executives for their continual support to Extension Officers and assured them, that their efforts will not go in vain. “The vision of COCOBOD is to achieve 1500 kg of dry beans per hectare by 2025, and this can only be attained if the Cooperatives becomes vibrant and self-sustaining to offer business services,” he added.
Mrs. Lucy Dagba gave her presentation on Child Labour in the Cocoa Value Chain. She stated that “since 2000, there was global pressure against major cocoa producing countries: Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria. Cote d’Ivoire especially was accused of using children from Mali and other areas on their cocoa plantations. Thus, consumers felt: “eating chocolate from the sweat of children..” This tag led to a call to stop the exploitation of children or else face the consequences which include boycotting the purchase of cocoa. In response to this, a protocol was signed, code-named ‘Harken-Engel Protocol’ to put systems in place to eliminate forced labour & the worst form of Child Labour in the cocoa sector.”
Mrs. Dagba in the participatory method, guided the leaders to define child labour as “any work that is exploitative, and deprives a child of his/her education, affects the health, the moral and wholesome development of the child now or in future or Work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling – by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school or by obliging them to leave school prematurely.”
Mrs. Dagba further expatiated that poverty, unemployment, under employment, irresponsibility of parents, unbudgeted expenditure/impulse buying, Unplanned births, teenage pregnancy, breakdown of social /extended family support and other socio-economic issues (pull & push factors from cities) as the major causes of child labour. She added that child labour can lead to boycott of the purchase of cocoa, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, drug addiction leading to an increase in social misfits, school drop-out, illiterate society and low H/R development, low-self esteem, depression and suicide or pre-mature death of victims all interconnected and in a cycle.
Mrs. Dagba further stated that International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention 182 on Worst Form of Child Labour(WFCL) defines four classes of work as worst forms i.e. the engagement or recruitment of children into:
i. Slavery and all forms of slavery-like practices e.g. forced labour and bonded labour- child trafficking
ii. Illegal/ illicit activities e.g. child soldiers, smuggling. Selling alcoholic drinks, narcotic/ chemical substances etc
iii. Pornography/pornographic performances e.g. prostitution, club dance
iv. Hazardous labour e.g. fishing, farming, quarrying & others that affect the health, safety and morals of the child
Mrs. Dagba further stated children have rights according to Children’s Act 560 (1998), Part 1, Sub-part 1 which deals with the rights of children and parental duties.
• Non-discrimination (colour, sex etc)
• Right to name and nationality
• Right to grow up with parents
• Right for parental duty/ responsibility & property
• Right to Educ., well-being, opinion
• Protection from exploitative labour etc
She further touched on child trafficking as basically “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat, force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”.
She added, “Even though children should be involved in cocoa farming, but under acceptable conditions/circumstances, under the care and supervision of parents, during weekends & school holidays, with good protective clothing and with an appropriate tool that commensurate with the age of the child.”
In conclusion, Mrs. Dagba stated that for a secured future and sustainable cocoa farming or production, there’s a need to develop the full potential of all children in farming communities, need for holistic approach to eliminate child labour by all stakeholders including chiefs, farmer Coop, parents, schools/teachers, Ministries/governments etc.
The Cooperative leaders expressed their appreciation and thanked the extension officers for the training and assured it will be put into good use for sustainable cocoa industry.
Over 50 leaders benefited from the training programmme.
Source: Modern Ghana