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14.11.2008 Social News

COCOBOD tackles child labour

By The Statesman

To help eliminate worst forms of child labour in cocoa growing communities in the country, COCOBOD has embarked on a nationwide programme to sensitise cocoa farmers on the dangers of child labour.

The twelve-week programme, which takes the form of public fora and discussions on selected radio stations, is a follow-up to an earlier one jointly organised by COCOBOD and the International Cocoa Initiative last year.

The sensitisation programme is not only geared towards helping the country conform to international labour standards but also the elimination of worst forms of child labour in all sectors of the economy by the year 2011.

The international market has declared its intention to stop buying cocoa from Ghana and other West African countries if farmers in these countries continue employing children as labourers on their cocoa farms. In their view, these innocent children should rather be in school to develop their potentials in life.

At one such public for a at Daboase Monday, a senior research officer of COCOBOD, Paul Ntim, reiterated that cocoa processing companies in developed countries like the United Kingdom and America have served warning about an impending industry decision to stop purchasing cocoa from Ghana if the farmers employ children on their farms.

According to him, this stance should be seen as a step in the right direction since many of the cocoa farmers overburden children with tasks which impede their psychological and physical development.

Identifying the different forms of child labour such as forcing children to undertake hazardous works and engaging them in pornographic films or prostitution, Mr Ntim said there was the need for the cocoa farmers to respond positively to the sensitisation programme so as to save the industry from collapse.

Almost all participants at the forum which was chaired by the chief of Daboase, Nana Kojo Akye II, said the only long-term remedy to the child labour issue is the granting of soft loans to individual cocoa farmers by government to enable them engage the services of adult labourers on their farms.