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Business News of Friday, 8 February 2013

Source: GNA

Union campaigns against child labour in cocoa growing areas

The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has embarked on a three-day sensitization programme at Saamang, a cocoa growing community in the Eastern Region, to combat child labour in cocoa growing areas in Ghana.

The programme brought together about 4,000 pupils and teachers in 32 basic schools, chiefs and other stakeholders in the community where GAWU hosted a sports festival for the pupils.

GAWU used the occasion to enlighten the pupils about the importance of school and made them understand that as children their office ought to be the school and not the farm.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Koforidua, Mr Edward Tandaga Kareweh, Deputy General Secretary of GAWU, said agriculture was a hazardous and very demanding vocation which tends to have its toll on children by either making them drop out of school or “combine schooling with long hours of work to assist their parents in the fields.”

“These children are exposed to toxic pesticides, fertilizers, dangerous blades and tools as well as suffering bites from animals and insects and these can have immediate and long term impact on children,” he said.

Mr Kareweh said GAWU was vigorously embarking on a nationwide campaign in the cocoa growing areas against child labour, adding, “we do not want to see children in labour because we believe in dignity of labour.”

As part of the sensitization programme, GAWU also trained some farmers, stakeholders and parents to be agents of change in the cocoa growing areas in the region.

Some of the topics treated included, Child Labour and Hazardous Work in Ghana’s Cocoa Farms, Hazards, Effects and Control Measures in Cocoa Farming, Protecting the Health and Well-being of Children and Farmers, and First Aid for Common Farm Emergencies.

Mr Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, Head of Training and Education of GAWU, said the union had a responsibility to assist and enlighten farmers about the correct usage and application of farming tools and chemicals.

He said the training was aimed at raising awareness and to promote the well-being of children and farmers through the adoption of safe and healthy practices in cocoa production.

Mr Emmanuel Kodjo Kusi, the Regional Industrial Relations Officer of GAWU, urged farmers in the region to do well to always adopt the correct farming methods and apply the appropriate chemicals on crops in order to avoid food poisoning.