Exploring the impact of collaboration on a cocoa community in Ghana
The need for a multi-stakeholder approach in the fight against child labour, especially in the cocoa sector, cannot be overemphasized as a result of the cross-cutting issues associated with child protection. It is in this context that a team from the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), together with a group made up of representatives from Nestlé, Cocoanet and Cocoa Merchant Ghana, joined members of the European Union (EU) to visit Banko, a cocoa-growing community in the Bekwai District of the Ashanti Region on Wednesday, 27th February, 2020. The purpose of the visit was for the delegation to better understand the cocoa production process and the best practices being adopted by Nestlé to curb child labour, commodity-driven deforestation and improve farmer livelihoods.
The delegation included the European Union’s Ambassador to Ghana, Her Excellency Diana Acconcia, six members of the EU Parliament and other members of the embassy in Ghana. Cocoa farmers in the Banko community demonstrated the farm practices they adopt and discussed their yield, annual income and the social security and wages of their workers. The EU team also saw a demonstration on the cocoa farming process from the nursery to the shed.
As part of the visit, ICI presented the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) and how it is being implemented in Nestlé’s supply chain in Ghana through ECOM and Cocoanet, the two companies who source cocoa for Nestlé in Ghana.
Prince Gyamfi, the Programmes Coordinator and Deputy Country Director of ICI in Ghana took the delegation through the stages of the system which includes data collection and validation, identification of the victims of child labour, awareness raising, remediation and monitoring. He spoke of how critical the data collection stage was to all the other stages in the cycle. He went on to emphasize the role of accurate information in ensuring effective remediation towards child labour elimination within the supply chains of the members of the cocoa and chocolate industry. “Remediation can take many forms and could target the child directly or indirectly. It could be in the form of educational materials, enrolment in apprenticeship, setting up of labour groups and supporting of parents to engage in other economic activities to support the family, Prince explained to the delegates.
“ICI was pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate ongoing efforts to tackle child labour in cocoa supply chains to the Ambassador and representatives from the European Parliament through this recent visit, said Nick Weatherill. “Consuming countries, such as those in the European Union, have an important role to play, particularly in driving due diligence and responsible business conduct throughout the supply chain. We hope that this visit has also underscored the value of collaborating across a wide range of stakeholders, including companies, governments and communities, to address the issue and achieve impact on the ground for farmers and their children.”
In an interview on how she saw the interaction, Her Excellency Acconcia said:
“This interaction is very interesting and I was very happy that; thanks to the cooperation between a big company like Nestle, the farmers and the sustainability efforts, we are able to have high yielding cocoa farms which support good living conditions for the people, absence of child labour and at the same time protect the environment through climate smart agricultural practices.” She added, “For me, this shows what is possible if everybody cooperates and works together.”