International Cocoa Initiative hosts Ghana training scheme tackling child labour

Swiss-based non-profit foundation The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has successfully hosted a four-day training workshop for selected staff of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), as part of ongoing initiatives tackling child labour, reports Neill Barston.

The venture took place in Koforidua recently, and its organisers explained that it was aimed at enhancing the capacity of Regional Extension Officers, tasked with sharing knowledge, best practices, and new farming techniques with local farmers.

As ICI revealed, the initiative aimed to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the concepts of child labour and forced labour as well as ways to address them.

The 20 participants were from the Child Labour Desk of the Research, Monitoring & Evaluation Division at COCOBOD and Regional Extension Officers from the Cocoa Health and Extension Division) (CHED) from across the cocoa-producing regions of Ghana.

Furthermore, the training topics discussed included the concepts of child labour, child rights and responsibilities, parental responsibilities, acceptable child work, how to organise child labour awareness raising at the household level and community level, laws and conventions on child labour and forced labour, as well as risk prevention and grievance mechanisms.

The Deputy Country Director of ICI, the key facilitator for the training, Prince Gyamfi, said the training was to build the capacity of the regional extension and child desk officers to raise awareness and educate the farmers at the local level and provide practical solutions to child labour and forced labour in cocoa communities.

Addressing the participants, the Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at COCOBOD, Rev. Edwin Afari thanked ICI and its partners for the training and encouraged participants to take home lessons from the training, test them out and implement them to help tackle issues of child labour in the cocoa sector in Ghana. The training session was made up of a series of interactive discussions on issues of child and forced labour with cocoa-specific practical illustrations and cases.

Research Manager and Head of Child Labour Desk at COCOBOD, Simon Crown, said: “the training has been the best received in terms of practical knowledge of child labour and forced labour and the approaches in raising awareness. We are very optimistic that with the knowledge gained from this training, the officers will be able to identify child labour issues in the field and know how to go about it”. The workshop according to him was very practical and will help the officers identify and address issues of child labour. The participants expressed their heartfelt gratitude to ICI and its partners for the opportunity and hoped that the training will be very relevant in the delivery of their duties.

The training forms part of the capacity development and stakeholder engagement objective of the project, ‘Tackling Child and Forced Labour in Ghanaian Cocoa and Gold Mining’, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), with ICI, the Rainforest Alliance and Solidaridad as implementing partners.

Funded by NORAD, the scheme began in March 2021 and is anticipated to be completed in December 2023, aims to strengthen the ability of the government and local authorities to identify, prevent and address child labour and forced labour; to support supply chain actors to put in place good practices that help tackle child labour and forced labour; and help communities themselves to recognise child labour cases.

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