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General News of Sunday, 17 May 2015

Source: GNA

Ghana committed to eliminate child labour on cocoa farms – Veep

Vice President Kwesi Amissah Arthur has stated that Ghana is currently working to eliminate all forms of child labour on the cocoa farms.

He said the government has introduced the Child Education Support Programme to ensure that schools in cocoa growing communities are rehabilitated and new ones built in communities where there are no schools.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur was speaking at a Cocoa Dinner organised by the Federation of Cocoa Commerce held at Grosvenor House, London, United Kingdom.

The dinner brought together around 900 people from the international cocoa community including key influential guest speakers.

The theme for the year's dinner: "West meets East," with a focus on West Africa as the world's leaders of cocoa producers and the growing importance of Asia to the global economy.

The Federation of Cocoa Commerce was established in 1935 in Paris to serve the growing trade in physical cocoa.

The objective of the federation is to develop a single robust commercial framework for the cocoa market, to achieve contract harmonisation and provide supporting services and education programmes.

Present at the ceremony was Mr. Muhammed Jusuf Kalla, Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr Paul Boateng, former Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Mr Victor Smith, Ghana's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur said the provision of educational infrastructure is to give opportunity to children living in deprived cocoa communities to have access to quality education.

He gave the assurance that the government is committed to improve road network in the cocoa growing communities combined with other infrastructural development in cocoa growing areas, which would help improve the quality of life which in turn would be an incentive for the youth to stay in the communities and engage in cocoa farming.

He said the government recognises it responsibilities to manage the cocoa sector by enhancing the farming productivity thereby protecting farms and livelihoods.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur also stated that government is committed to ensure that children in the country are protected from exploitation and to facilitate the adoption of sound environmental practices that protect the nation's forest reserves and water bodies.

He expressed the gratitude of the government to the federation for promoting, protecting and regulating the trade of cocoa beans and products, as well as supporting and safeguarding the interest of its members.

He said Ghana is proud to be a member of the association and committed to develop a sustainable economy that improves the livelihoods of cocoa farmers who are important segments of the population at a time that Ghana continues to provide incentives and infrastructure that promises to create linkages to benefit stakeholders in the industry.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur said since the introduction of cocoa into the country in the 19th century, the crop has dominated the economy and forms three percent of the Gross Domestic Products.

It provides employment for almost a million farmers and a source of livelihood for millions of citizens in six out of the 10 regions with 20 per cent of Ghana's merchandise export.

He said the theme for this year's dinner reflects the prospects of increasing demands for cocoa products in the Asian region and how this demand impact on productivity in producing countries.

He said China chocolate sales is projected to grow by 10 per cent per annum and strong growth is also expected in the middle part of the brick countries.

He said cocoa production in Central America is projected to remain strong whilst global consumption is growing between two to three per cent per annum and the current trend is believed to lead the current deficit of a hundred thousand tons by 2020 in producing countries.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur called on member countries of the association to invest in new farms through a climate-smart approach as well as increase the productivity on existing farms.

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