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May 12, 2009

 

 

Reports about child slavery in cocoa sector is false

Kumasi, May 11, Ghanadot/GNA – The Deputy Minister for Employment and Social Welfare, Mr Antwi Bosiako Sekyere, said on Monday that reports about engagement of children in slavery-like practices in the cocoa sector are untrue.


He said findings of an Independent Verification Team Commissioned by the International Cocoa Verification Board (ICVB) as well as findings of the surveys conducted by the government have confirmed that.


The Deputy Minister said this at the launch of a three-day workshop by the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in cocoa growing areas.


The programme is the third out of the five scheduled for the year and attracted participants from Central, Eastern and Volta regions.


Mr. Sekyere said according to the research, 90 percent of Ghanaian children in cocoa growing areas are living with their parents whereas 9.7 percent live with other relatives.


It also came out that 76 percent of the sampled population are aware of the effects of child labour on children.


“However, it is worrying to know that over 50 percent of children in cocoa growing communities engage in at least one hazardous activity which does not auger well for their health and education”, he said.


He said the ministry had designed a framework within which children would be made to work to promote occupational safety and health measures according to their age.


Mr Sekyere said the ministry is also developing communication strategies and messages from the Hazardous Activity Framework to facilitate awareness creation and sensitization of farmers and children.


He said remedial actions had been implemented in 11 districts and 110 communities, adding that currently more than 1,200 children are being provided with support to pursue formal education and vocational skills.


As a result of the progress in the 11 districts, the programme has been extended to 36 more districts, Mr. Sekyere added and urged all the Municipal and District assemblies to implement and monitor the programme.


Mrs. Rita Owusu-Amankwa, Programme Manager, National Programme to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Cocoa (NPECLC), said the programme, which started in 2006, is to bring about change in attitudes and behaviours as well as promote an integrated approach to child development at the district and community levels.


Mr. Samuel Edmund Bisiw, Regional Manager of the Quality Control Division of COCOBOD, said Ghana would not attain its target of one million tonnes of cocoa by 2009 if children are exploited but only through good husbandry practices.


He said child labour is not only found on cocoa farms but in quarrying, fishing and mining and called on all stakeholders to join hands to fight the menace.


GNA

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