Ghana addresses cocoa labour issues

By Catherine Boal

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cocoa, Ghana, Agriculture, Cocoa bean, International cocoa organisation

The Ghanaian government is continuing its investigation into labour
practices in the country's cocoa industry with the publication of a
report into child labour.

Ghana is the world's second largest cocoa growing region and many major manufacturers have invested in the area to ensure a steady and stable supply chain. Earlier this year, Swiss processor Barry Callebaut extended operations at its facilities in the country - adding a new processing line to double production. According to the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) the country's commercial crop in 2005/06 reached a record high of 646,000 tonnes. But, with cocoa growing spread across around 600,000 small farming communities, unsafe labour practices are a major concern for the Ghanaian government. Deputy Minister with the Ministry of Manpower Akosua Frema Osei-Opare said: "Cocoa farming is part of the fabric of our nation, today as much as in the past. So, too, is the tradition of helping out on the family cocoa farm. "As we move forward, we must preserve the rich history and traditions of cocoa farming, while ensuring that responsible, safe labour practices are used in Ghana." ​According to the recently released Pilot Labour Survey in Cocoa Production in Ghana, 2.47 million children aged between 5 and 7 years are engaged in economic activites. Cocoa farming is traditionally a family business with children being taught the necessary skills from a young age, allowing them to take over from older relatives. The study examined around 600 cocoa farms and discovered children of all ages were involved in many aspects of the growing process. The degree of involvement varied according to age and activity but typical duties were weeding, carrying water for spraying, pod gathering, carting and drying beans. Encouragingly, enrolment levels in local schools were generally high and investigators found children assisted in cocoa production mostly during the weekends and school holidays. However, the report identified several hazards that present a significant risk to working children. Those in the 5-12 age group were particularly vulnerable to exposures to pesticides, farming related injuries, and injuries caused by carrying and walking long distances with heavy loads. The report states: "It is for this minority of children, who are usually the most vulnerable, that well planned and organised interventions should be implemented as a matter of urgency to protect them and ensure that these children enjoy their right to full development." ​The study was carried out as part of Ghana's National Program on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Cocoa (NPECLC).

Related topics: Commodities, Cocoa & Sugar

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