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Children Need To Be Protected In Cocoa Farms For a Brighter Future
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A child (in pink) carrying food stuff from the farm
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Child protection in cocoa growing communities are rare, especially in areas where the International
Cocoa Initiative (ICI) are not visible.

This is because, ICI works with the cocoa industry, civil society, farmers groups and both domestic and foreign in cocoa regions in the country to ensure that children are not engaged in hazardous work that will take them out of the classroom.

Our reporter, Akwasi Agyeman conducted a survey through an observation to find out how our children are engaged in farm work in some cocoa communities like Jumapo near Koforidua in the Eastern Region and its surrounding villages like Oyoko, Asikaso, Kofikrom and Wurapong.

The communities mentioned frown on children who are engaged in hazardous work. This is because, there is a Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC) dotted in the various villages who are mostly farmers, assembly members and opinion leaders.

They engage farmers regularly to educate them on dangers of engaging their children in hazardous work because it would affect their health and academic work.

The CCPC Organizer, Mr Elliot Ofosu Appiah during my interaction with him appreciated the help from the ICI and asked his group to embark on massive education drive in eight communities in cocoa growing areas to ensure that children are well protected.

He said, the ICI gave seventy pieces of desks to Anglican Basic School at Jumapo. The Presbyterian Basic School also benefitted from some tables and chairs. Needy fifteen pupils in their catchment area were also provided with uniforms.

The farmers were not left out. They were given free fertilizer, rain coats and other farm inputs.

Mr Samuel Boadu the vice Secretary of CCPC and other leaders available during my interaction with
them were full of praise to ICI and said child protection is solid at Jumapo and its surrounding villages.

The glittering story at Jumapo runs parallel in some cocoa growing villages at Akyem Aboabo,
Atuntumirem and Adekuma near Akyem Achiase where I visited.

Parents see their children though in school as farm helpers who are duty bound to work hard on the farm, carry heavy loads like fire wood gathered and sacks of cocoa beans of about 35 kilos.

They see nothing wrong with it. This is because that is how they were brought up by their parents. Sometimes children of about age ten to thirteen would have to walk a total of about ten kilometers to and fro farms to bring foodstuffs before they will go to School. Such children who are already tired would always doze off in class.

I spoke to Opanyin Kwaku Mensah who admitted that engaging children in hazardous work is not good but he has no option because he has no money to engage labourers to work on his farm.

A cocoa farm in the Eastern Region where most children work
Source: Akwasi Agyeman/Peace FM News

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