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20.02.2006 General News

Exploitation of Children on Cocoa Farms Exaggerated

By GNA

Koforidua, Feb. 20, GNA - Research conducted by the Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) into the alleged exploitation of children of school-going age on cocoa farms in Ghana has been found to be grossly exaggerated.

The Research, which was conducted in the five main cocoa growing regions in the country, found out that only two per cent of the children found on cocoa farms came from the Northern Savannah Zone and could be described as being exploited.

The majority of the children were assisting their parents on their farms and could, therefore, not be classified as being exploited, a Research Fellow of the GNCC, Mr Sylvester Kyei Gyamfi, told the Ghana News Agency at a day's seminar on: "Dialogue on Violence against Children in the Eastern Region" at Koforidua.

UNICEF and the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC) sponsored the seminar.

Citing the bases for the research, Mr Gyamfi said the Government had to sponsor the research, following pressure from the international community on reports that a large number of children of school-going age were being exploited on cocoa plantations in Ghana. He said the international community went to the extent of threatening to boycott cocoa from Ghana due to the allegation, saying the sample size used in the research indicated that 89 per cent of the children working on the farms were children, who were only assisting their parents on the farms.

Mr Gyamfi said the remaining 11 per cent of the children were found to be children, who had completed basic education and were working on daily wage basis, which did not constitute exploitation. Explaining further, Mr Gyamfi indicated that about two per cent of the children were, however, found to be "children brought from the Northern part of Ghana to the cocoa growing areas to work on some peasant holdings and that is why we accept that they are being exploited".

He stressed that though children from the Northern savannah were engaged on cocoa farms, which amounted to exploitation, the figure was "insignificant to be generalized as exploitation of children on cocoa farms".

In a presentation on the overview of a study on the alleged involvement of children on cocoa plantations, Ms Florence Ayisi, also of the Research Unit of GNCC, said out of the sample size of 600 children interviewed in major cocoa areas in the Eastern Region, 342 were school children, who only assisted their parents on the farms.

She said the rest were not different from the overall research that indicated that they had completed basic education and were working on the farms to help their parents "as a means of whiling away time". Ms Ayisi, indicated that about 21 per cent of the population did not have knowledge about child violence and abuse in the societies, hence the dialogue was being organized to ensure that a full awareness was created.

The Eastern Regional Co-ordinator of the GNCC, Mr Anthony Dontoh noted that child trafficking, child labour and all forms of child violence persisted in the society, despite the various interventions, hence the need for the dialogue to see how best stakeholders could help in curbing child violence in the society.

He explained that the dialogue was also to be used as a platform to discuss the outcome of the research conducted into the alleged exploitation of children on cocoa plantations. 20 Feb. 06

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