The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has stated that no child is engaged in labour in the country’s cocoa sector.
He said a 16 or 17 year old child accompanying his parents to the cocoa farm to remove beans could not labeled as child labour.
“I have always reiterated this on several local and international platforms. I was involved in a research in the cocoa industry for 17 years ago and throughout my research, at no point did a farmer acknowledge that he or she would allow the child go into cocoa farming, he stated.
“If the farmers themselves would not want their children to be in cocoa farming, then whose child is in this child labour we are talking about,” he added.
The CEO was speaking in an interview with the media on the sidelines of a workshop on the cocoa sector strategy document II on April 3.
Commenting on the cocoa sector strategy document, he said the need for a strategic plan for the cocoa industry was so crucial at a time when stakeholders were confronted with climate change and variability, ageing cocoa farms and dwindling terminal price of cocoa.
He said developing clear strategies to mitigate these new dynamics in the sector was of prime importance.
“It is in light of the emerging developments in the cocoa sector that we are all gathered here to deliberate and build consensus towards the finalisation of the new cocoa sector development strategy II document,” he stated.
Background of strategy
Giving a brief background of the strategy, he said the first cocoa sector development strategy was approved by the government in April 1999 after extensive consultations with all stakeholders and was implemented over a 10-year period.
The objectives were to increase production to 700,000 tonnes by 2004/05, raise price to 70 per cent of the gross FOB price, reduce the cocoa export tax to 15 per cent of the FOB price 2004/05.
“I am happy to inform you that the marks were surpassed during the 10-year period. Average production during the 10-year period was 594,184 tonnes, with a minimum of 389,744 tonnes and a maximum of 740,383 tonnes in the 2000/01 and 2005/06 crop years respectively,” the CEO explained.
“At the end of the implementation period, cocoa farmers received at least 70 per cent of the net FOB price in addition to the supply of inputs,” he added.
Mr Boahen Aidoo said the new strategy was aimed at creating a modernised, resilient and competitive cocoa environment where all stakeholders would strive towards a sustainable cocoa economy in which cocoa farmers and their communities would thrive.
He said it sought to raise the current productivity levels from 500 kg/ha to an average of 1000 kg/ha by 2027.
This he said would support the achievement of an annual production target of 1.1million by the 2021/22 crop year and ultimately to 1.5 million tonnes by the 2026/27 crop years.
He pointed out that the ne strategy would also focus on promoting local cocoa consumption and inculcating cocoa into local diets.
“In this regard, COCOBOD will partner with the private sector to embark on a sustained nationwide campaign aimed at creating awareness on the virtues of cocoa consumption,” he noted.