Our job is done; our pounding days are over!
The people of Abonse, a farming community located in the Western region of Ghana, aside from cocoa production, also grow palm trees. These trees are either grown around the houses or close to their cocoa farms. The trees are very valuable to the people as they have many economic benefits. The most important resource however is the fruits from which the people extract palm oil.
As part of our work within the community, we have provided a machine to some interested community members to facilitate the mechanisation of the palm oil production process. This was achieved under the ICI Income Generating Activities (IGA) strategy which looks at assisting parents to have additional sources of income as a form of poverty alleviation. Poverty is a major cause of child labour in cocoa-growing areas.
Before ICI’s entry into the community, this labour intensive aspect of the palm oil production process was handled by children. Production days meant reduced attendance at school, tired children and loud pounding sounds. The children had to use huge wooden mortars and pistols to pound the fruits into a mush which separates the juicy covering from the hard seeds. This was the most tedious aspect of the process which took hours to complete. Today, the situation is different. Though it was a production day, there were no children around the shed of the group. We found them in the classrooms learning. With the help of the machine, the whole bunch of boiled fruits is pounded in less than 15 minutes. (See here how palm oil is produced in Abonse)
Pupils in class in the primary school of Abonse
“Before we had the machine, we used to suffer a lot because we had to pound the fruits in the wooden mortar with a pistol. This process was not only tiresome and long but reduced our production. We couldn’t mush it fine enough to get the quantity of oil we were supposed to produce. With the machine, our production has increased resulting in higher income. Now we can take better care of our children in their education. The children are no longer called on to pound the cooked fruits. They can concentrate on their education without any interruptions from us.” Steven Aboagye, Chairman of the IGA, explains.
This kind of transformation is an example of sustainable practices which help ensure child protection in cocoa-growing communities, increasing the families’ income.