Cocoa farmers urged to comply with laws on child labour
News Date: 15th October 2011
Mr. Augustine Kwame Asante, Sunyani District Cocoa Quality Control Officer of the Ghana COCOBOD, has urged cocoa and other crop farmers to heed government’s advice against child labour on their farms.
He was addressing a meeting of cocoa farmers at Nsuta in Techiman Municipality as part of a programme by COCOBOD aimed at sensitizing and creating awareness among cocoa farmers on the child labour law.
About 100 cocoa farmers at Nsuta and its environs including Kokompe, Owusukrom, and Atia were in attendance.
Mr. Asante stressed that under international and local laws on child labour it was an offence for anybody to subject any child to any form of excessive labour.
Ghana’s 1992 Constitution and the Children’s Act, as well as the United Nation’s Charter have expressed misgivings against the practice, he said.
The Quality Control officer said farmers could, however, supervise their children below the age of 18 years in time of need for their services.
“The presence of an elderly person would check that the child will not exert too much energy to work above his or her capability”, Mr Asante added.
Mr. Asante emphasized children under-18 years could however assist in cocoa farming activities like gathering cocoa pods during harvesting and other minor errands but under supervision.
Children must not be allowed to spray cocoa or any other farm crops because of the danger the chemicals or insecticides could pose to him or her, he added.
Mr Asante called on Unit Committees members, Assembly Members, chief farmers and other opinion leaders in cocoa growing areas to join hands to check the exploitation of children.
Mr. Ebenezer Kwabena Agyen, Brong-Ahafo Regional Extension Officer of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Control Unit (CSSVDCU), said due to limited staff, extension officers could no longer visit farmers on their farms as they used to.
He said the Unit had for instance sent five extension officers to Berekum cocoa district, adding Mr. Richard Arthur, an extension officer at Nsuta would serve the Community.
Mr Agyen explained that the extension officers were working in different dimensions, saying instead of assisting cocoa farmers in planting as formerly done, the advice was now on education.
The Government had now decided to use money to pay extension officers so they could avail themselves to farmers, who needed knowledge to produce more and earn more money, he said.
The Regional Extension Officer also educated the farmers on the Cocoa Rehabilitation Scheme Policy of the government, explaining that under the policy 30 year-old cocoa farms would be cut off to give room for the rehabilitation of the farm.
He said government would pay for the number of cocoa trees to be cut as well as for the labour cost.
After that, Mr Agyen added, the government would provide the farmer concerned a free hybrid cocoa seedling free of charge, as well as plantain suckers and economic trees, which would become the bono-fide property of the farmers.
Mrs. Margaret Frimpong Ayerakwa, Acting Deputy Regional Manager of CSSVDCU, advised cocoa farmers to report signs of infection on their farms to the Unit for the infected trees be cut-off.
“Even though farmers find the decision of cutting infected cocoa trees discouraging, this is the only method to sustain or save the farm from danger”, she said.
Nana Kwasi Agyei, chief farmer at Nsuta, who presided, explained that farmers in the area only used their school children at weekends and not during school hours.
He appealed to the government to increase the price of cocoa and provide the necessary farming inputs to farmers. He also urged his colleague cocoa farmers to work hard to increase production and to take their wards' education seriously.
During a forum, most of the farmers complained they sold their cocoa to buying agents without passbooks and therefore were afraid the system could deprive them of any benefits as there would be no supporting records for their claims.
In response, the Chief Farmer, Nana Agyei, promised to investigate the allegation.