PThe Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has implored cocoa buyers to pay high for cocoa beans to enable Ghanaian farmers employ the services of labourers on their farms.
He said the fight against child labour on cocoa farms would be lost if farmers were to receive low prices for their cocoa produce, thus, compelling them to use children for various works on their farms.
“The underlying factor which keeps child labour going is poverty. It is only when cocoa buyers pay high for cocoa beans these farmers produce through their hard work that we can make the most important step towards elimination of child labour on cocoa farms.
With enough money, farmers can now hire labourers to work on their farms. This is the role industry must play to effectively support all other efforts to bring an end to the menace,” he stated.
He was speaking yesterday in Accra at a two-day stakeholders’ workshop to define collaboration and partnership against child labour and forced child labour in Ghana’s cocoa sector.
The event was also to discuss the National Plan of Action (NPA) II 2017-2021 on child labour, achievements to date, critical gaps and emerging priorities.
It was organised by the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations in partnership with the Ghana Cocoa Board, World Cocoa Foundation, International Cocoa Initiative, International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
As an industry benefitting from the work of farmers, Mr Awuah asked cocoa buyers to take up a “responsible role in eradicating child labour from cocoa farms” so as not to make profit at the expense of the future of children.
He said it was time all stakeholders renewed their commitment to the NPA II to help in realising the 10 per cent reduction of child labour in the cocoa sector by 2021 and total eradication by 2025.
Efforts toward fighting the menace should be national in nature and not isolated to ensure that all cocoa growing areas were impacted by the approaches identified, he said.
Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Morrison, reiterated the need for community engagements in the implementation of the NPA II to sensitise all other groups on the effects of child labour on the society.
“We cannot succeed in our quest to eliminate child labour on our cocoa farms if we do not engage the farmers. They must understand and appreciate the reason why child labour must come to a stop. The ministry has commenced such approaches and we urge industry to join us in this regard,” she added.
President of The Mara Partners, Mil Niepold, said a similar workshop would be held in Cote d’Ivoire to support the government in ending child labour in the cocoa sector.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS