Gabriel Adjei: How rice farming improved my family’s quality of life
“I was poor because I was concentrating on only cocoa as an income source, with this rice farm, I now have an option,” said Gabriel Adjei, a cocoa farmer in the Nkranfo Nkwanta community in the Ashanti region of Ghana. “I can now confidently say providing for the school needs of my children will no longer be a challenge to me as I have every intention of continuing with the rice farm alongside the cocoa.”
Gabriel was identified as a farmer in need of support by the Nestlé Cocoa Plan’s Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), implemented with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI). CLMRS are embedded into company supply chains to identify, monitor, prevent and address child labour cases. Gabriel was engaging his children in child labour because of his inability to hire adult labourers. In 2018, Gabriel, together with others in his community, received rice seeds, agrochemicals, and spraying machines to help them expand their already existing rice farms.
“I used to engage my children in child labour because my yield was low. Most days I had to take them to the farm so we can all have our meals there,” Gabriel explained. “I did not have money for them to go to school. Awareness raising under the CLMRS educated me on the dangers of child labour to myself and the future of my children.”
Through the CLMRS, households and children of cocoa farmers who were identified to either be involved in child Labour or at risk of child labour were assisted in various ways. Some of the children received with educational materials such as books, school uniforms, bags, and shoes. Older children who were not in school were enrolled in apprenticeship trainings of their choice. Parents in these households were supported to start secondary farms cultivating tiger nuts, vegetables, and rice. Gabriel and his children were one of those households who benefitted.
“During the remediation, my children were supported with educational materials. I was also supported to expand my rice farm. I chose rice farming as an alternative income source because I was already involved in it on a smaller scale and it is one of the most lucrative produce in our community”, Gabriel continued. “The project supported me with all that I needed to start the farm. I committed myself to seeing this through because I needed the extra income. I was able to harvest 60 bags of rice from the farm that year.
“My farm was fruitful because I had all the necessary requirement for a good farm; inputs and a land with adequate water”, Gabriel went on to add. “I made GHC12,000 out of the sale of the rice I harvested. I was overjoyed with this because I am now able to take care of my family and myself. I have a small cocoa farm which means a small income but with the additional money coming from the rice farm, this has changed.”
His expanded rice farm enabled Gabriel to earn an income all year round. In Ghana, there are two cocoa seasons, the major one, which begins in October, and a minor one which is in June. The period between these seasons are sometimes very difficult ones for farmers, especially those with smaller or older farms. The additional income from their farms helps households to bridge this financial gap. For Gabriel, this worked out perfectly. His farms are cultivated in a way that he either makes money from his rice farm or his cocoa farm.
“I start planting rice just after the cocoa season. My rice is ready for harvesting by the lean season. I no longer feel the effects of this period because I have the money I made from the sale of the rice to fend for us,” Gabriel explained. “I am happy I listened to the advice of the CLMRS community facilitators in my community. It is through this that I am now able to provide adequately for myself and my children. I now use myself as an example for other farmers in my community who find themselves in the situation I was in. I do this so we can collectively eliminate child labour in Nkranfo Nkwanta through alternative income generation.”
Gabriel told his story at an interactive workshop in held at Hwiremoase, one of the communities supported as part of Nestlé’s CLMRS. Stakeholders and partners in the project from the beneficiary communities, district, regional and national levels, as well as representatives from the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, ICI and Cocoa Merchants Limited were all present.