Child labour illegal on Cocoa farms—Wiafe Akenten
Mr Osei Wiafe-Akenten, Juaso District Manager of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Control Unit (CSSVD), of the Ghana Cocoa Board has warned that, it is illegal and morally unacceptable to engage children as labourers, especially in the re-planting of swollen shoot infested cocoa farms.
Cocoa farmers, he said, should rather contact the CSSVD for the necessary support, assistance and advice to enable them to replant the affected cocoa farms.
Mr Wiafe-Akenten was addressing more than 100 cocoa farmers at a day's sensitization forum on the prevention and control of the swollen shoot disease at Kyekyebiase, near Agogo, in the Asante Akim North District on Tuesday.
It formed part of an intensive educational programme initiated by the CSSVD to prevent and control the swollen shoot disease in the Juaso District, where 74 cocoa farming blocks have been identified for the outbreak of the disease.
The Juaso Cocoa district comprises Asante Akim North, Ejisu Juaso and part of Bosomtwi Atwima Kwanwoma District and has 1,025 cocoa farming blocks out of which 165 have so far been surveyed for possible outbreak of the disease.
Mr Wiafe-Akenten observed that, misapplication of insecticides and wrong spraying of cocoa farms were major factors of sudden deaths and illnesses of some cocoa farmers and urged them to regularly seek technical advice from the CSSVD.
Mr Samuel Gyimah-Gyamfi, Deputy Ashanti Regional Manager of CSSVD, disclosed that, the Cocoa Board was considering a pilot programme where cocoa farms of aged farmers, which were infested with swollen shoot disease, would be replanted in lieu of the second installment payment of ex-gratia grants to those whose cocoa trees were cut down.
He said the cutting down of cocoa trees infested with the disease was the best means of improving the cocoa yield to raise the nation's foreign exchange earnings.
The Deputy Ashanti Regional Manager of CSSVD said the country could only sustain its international recognition and reputation in the cocoa industry if farmers co-operate and heeded the advice of the CSSVD.
Nana Asiedu Fourdjour, Nifahene of Kyekyebiase who presided, advised cocoa farmers to take advantage of the programme and improve their yield.
Some farmers, who had earlier opposed the cutting down of their infested trees, later agreed to co-operate with the CSSVD to help control the disease.
They, however, urged the Cocoa Board, to ensure that all affected cocoa farms were treated and controlled to avert the possible transfer of the virus to the treated cocoa farms.