A manual on Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI) has been developed by the Banana Producers Association of Ghana (BPA) and its partners with a focus on women in the industry.
The BOHESI aims to contribute to a socially and environmentally sustainable banana production and trade through improved workplace health conditions.
Ultimately, it is also to improve the standard of living for male and female workers and their communities.
In an interview during the launch of the manual in Accra on February 26, 2020, the President of the BPA, Mr Anthony Blay, explained the manual was in three parts; International Conventions on Health and Safety which Ghana has ratified, National Legislations and Practices that promote health and safety; Practical Guide for Risk Management on the Farms; and Gender Guidelines on Safety Environment for Women in the Industry.
He said the focus on women in the banana industry was due to the fact that on average, about 16 per cent of women were employed in the banana industry.
“There are certain tasks and operations that we encourage our women to carry and because of their peculiar needs, we always roll out certain things that will protect their needs and also encourage their participation in the industry.
“Already, we have international certification and most of the things that we are talking about are implemented but then having a manual that cuts across the sector will ensure that Ghana is placed higher with regard to these standards,” he said.
Mr Blay added that the elaborate nature of the manual would make it easier to translate that into practical operations in the various banana plantations.
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, expressed delight over the emphasis on gender in the BOHESI and said it was consistent with the government policy and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 which provided a clear framework for the future of work-based dignity, respect and freedom from violence and harassment.
He noted banana was among the most traded fruits in the world with a lot of interest in conditions of production, and so commended the BPA for breaking down laws and regulations into a practical manual for the understanding of ordinary workers.
“The manual is expected to be given life through constant application and reference on plantations to reduce accidents on the farms to barest minimum. I’m hoping that other plantations such as oil palm, rubber, pineapple and cocoa will also adopt such occupational health and safety practices for the welfare of their workers,” he said.
The BPA, in collaboration with the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), established by the Dutch Government, Bananalink, a United Kingdom (UK) based NGO and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) coordinated efforts that are working towards improving the occupational health and safety of workers in the banana industry in Ghana.
This joint initiative has resulted in the implementation of a number of activities including the facilitation of training/workshops on Occupational Health and Safety for workers of the three banana producing companies in Ghana, namely Golden Exotics Limited (GEL), Volta River Estates Limited (VREL) and Musahamat Farms Limited.
The BOHESI was in response to the challenges around the health and safety of banana workers and has been developed in partnership with Solidaridad, Banana Link, and the World Banana Forum (hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
A representative from the FAO, Mr Victor Prada, said banana provided a source of food to about 400 million people and contributes to food security and income generation.
He said banana was the most exported fruit in the world with economic value and volume
Ghana is among the three countries in West and Central Africa which supply fresh banana into the European Union on a preferential access basis.
Information by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) states that Ghana is endowed with the lands and climatic conditions for large cultivation of banana with at least six of the 16 regions ideal for its production.
Global exports of bananas were expected to reach a record high of 20.2 million tonnes in 2019, an estimated increase of five per cent compared to 2018.