HOW RICE CULTIVATION helps reduce CHILD LABOUR in ghana
ICI, through our work in the communities have come to see the impossibility of eliminating child labour without elevating poverty because it is one of the major causes of child labour. Child protection interventions must therefore come with the poverty elevating initiatives focused on ensuring that parents have the extra income needed to take care of their children’s education and provide for their other needs. We have gone a step further by ensuring that the group in charge of monitoring of child labour at the community level also benefit from these income generating activities so they can use the proceeds to support their work.
Rice farming has been one of these agricultural supports largely adopted by ICI in Ghana. Over the years, this strategy has proven to be very successful. In the four Direct Implementation programs currently ongoing, 3 of them are involved in rice production. This is being implemented in 13 communities involving 150 beneficiaries, both females and males. These women and men are members of Community Child Protection Committees (CCPCs) and Income Generating Activity (IGA) groups.
To ensure the use of good agronomic practices, Agriculture Extension Officers have been assigned to each group. These officers are with the Agriculture Extension Divisions of the Assemblies where these communities are located. They direct the members through training on agronomic practices and assistance with seed selection. They also undertake monitoring visits to the farms of members to ensure the knowledge has been transmitted into practice. According Sophia Abrefi one of the beneficiaries from Assin Nyinkyiso;
“I used to cultivate rice on my own before benefiting from the ICI intervention. We had no training or assistance on rice cultivation so we did whatever suited us in the planting and harvesting process. With the coming of the intervention, the Agriculture Extension Officer assigned to our group has built our capacity on best practices in rice cultivation. We have also been given nets to protect our crops from the birds. This means that the one month we used to spend on the farm chasing birds away from the crops can now be used more productively. We are now aware of the good agronomic practices needed for rice cultivation. We have seen great improvement in our yield and we don’t toil as much as we used to.”
As at November, 2017, these beneficiaries have harvested about 1500 bags of rice with an average of 8 bags harvested per a beneficiary with a cummunlative income of GHC. The proceeds from these harvests have been used to sponsor their children in their education as well as sustain the farm. It has also helped the parents to have a better standard of living due to having an additional source of income.
Hawa Yakubu, beneficiary from Yawboadi
“I am part of the IGA group in Yawboadi. I have been cultivating rice for a while but the yield was always low. For my first planting, I harvested half a bag of rice. It increased to one the next year. With the coming of ICI and the intervention in rice cultivation, I had a bumper harvest in 2017. My yield was way more than what I used to harvest previously. I had six and half bags with this harvest. The sale from this harvest is going into my children’s education and the farm. ICI is supporting us to do this so we can get extra income to support or children’s education.”
The rice planting programme has been so successful that some of the groups , like those in Abease, Nyinkyiso and Kofikrom, have been recognized during the Farmers Day Awards in their respective districts as exemplary Community Based Organisation (CBOs) in 2016 and 2017.
According to Mr Jacob Cephas Agbemazi, the Extension Officer in charge of the Yawboadi IGA,
“ICI has given the Department of Agriculture in the districts where the 29 communities are the opportunity to meet the farmers. With regards to women in Yaw Boadi, hither to, this group used to be male dominated but that has changed now. The support given to the group has helped in increasing their yield between 50% to 70%. This has empowered the women to better assist their spouses in caring for their children. More women around the community are now joining the group. The number has increased from 21 to 31 and we are still counting”.
Erica Agyei, the Chairperson of the Abease IGA group also had this to say about about how the support for rice cultivation and ICI’s presence has benefited her community.
“The entry of ICI into Abease has been very beneficial to the community. Our children are now more focused on their education and we have the extra income to support them.”