By Nicholas Osei-Wusu
For the avoidance of doubt, cocoa farmers could engage their children in cocoa production activities without breaching any law on child labour.
What is important is for such children to do activities relative to their age under the supervision of a responsible adult without compromising on their safety, health, formal education, or physical development. Also, no work done for a parent can be described as forced labour.
The media have therefore been urged to adequately educate members of the public so as to reduce the level of misconception about child labour in cocoa production in Ghana.
The Deputy Country Director of the International Cocoa Initiative, a multinational organisation concerned with the cocoa production value chain, Mr. Prince Gyamfi, gave the advice in Kumasi, in the Ashanti region, during a training workshop for selected journalists from some parts of the country.
The four-day training workshop was organised by the Ghana Agriculture and Rural Development Journalists’ Association, GARDJA, and jointly funded by the International Cocoa Initiative, I.C.I., Rainforest Alliance and Solidaridad.
The journalists were trained in topics related to child labour, forced labour, trafficking, national and international legal frameworks on child and forced labour as well as ethical reporting on child and forced labour.
The participants, both members and non-members of GARDJA, were from the Greater Accra, Volta, Eastern, Ashanti, Western, and Western North regions, with the resource persons carefully selected from both the cocoa industry and media.
The training and topics had become necessary as a result of continued misconception by a section of the public especially the media and even some players within the cocoa production value chain that it is totally unlawful for children to be involved in production of the commodity anywhere.
The Deputy Country Manager of the International Cocoa Initiative, Mr. Gyamfi, noted that apart from exposure to agrochemicals in any form, children, based on their age, could be legally engaged in cocoa production, provided they are not deprived of formal education and are also protected.
The I.C.I. Deputy Country Director, though expressed fear that more Ghanaian children risk being pushed into child labour due to prevailing socio-economic difficulties in the country, should the government rigorously pursue for the acceptance and commitment of the international cocoa market players the Living Income Differentials for cocoa farmers, among other initiatives to increase the income of the farmers, the problem of child labour could be substantially addressed.
The President of GARDJA, Mr. Richmond Frimpong, charged the participants to bring to bear the knowledge acquired so as to clear the existing misunderstanding among the public about using children in cocoa farming.