Many cocoa farmers are unable to afford the services of extra labour to work on their farms, which can result in them engaging their children in hazardous tasks. As part of the support provided within the Nestle-Beyond Beans Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has set up, equipped and trained Community Service Groups (CSGs) to offer farm services at subsidized cost. A CSG is composed of at least seven individuals from within or around the community and by offering services and performing tasks which could otherwise have been carried out by children, at an affordable rate can reduce the prevalence of child labour in the community.
The Anyeme CSG, in the Amansie Central District in Ghana’s Ashanti region, was set up in 2019 and trained to undertake farming activities such as pruning, pollination, cutting of mistletoe, and weeding on cocoa farms, and since its creation has been supporting farmers by providing affordable farm services. In 2022, the group was also equipped with the necessary skills to make organic compost to support cocoa farmers in their communities.
During a visit, the group explained the changes the community service group has brought to their community. Francis Frimpong, the Treasurer of the group enlightened: “Before the group was established our fellow famers could not afford to hire responsible labour and therefore resorted to using their children to do these hazardous activities even during school hours. But now, farmers can hire us to perform those activities because our services are affordable as compared to the usual labour in town.” As cocoa farmers themselves, Francis mentioned that the group have specific days they work on their individual farms and days on which they render services to other farmers as a CSG.
“ICI has really been helpful to the group, they equipped us with protective equipment such as overalls, wellington boots, hand gloves, as well as a motorized mist blower, ladder, goggles, reusable nose masks and forceps. We have also been trained in agronomic practices such as the application of insecticides, making organic fertilizers and proper way of pruning. We have additionally been provided with a first aid kit which we take with us to the farm anytime we are going to work,” Francis added.
“Sometimes after working for farmers, we do not get paid immediately. Most of the farmers promise to pay during the cocoa harvesting season. This makes it sometimes difficult to sustain the group, but the core aim of the group to help eradicate child labour keeps us going.
Even if in the future the ICI was to stop its support (such as equipment and training), we would use the savings from our earnings to sustain the group because we are satisfied with the objective of eliminating child labour from our community which will go a long way towards the development of our community,” Francis explained.
The group describes how organic fertilizer production has been beneficial to farmers in their community. “The fertilizer on the market is very expensive and even out of stock now making it difficult for farmers to get it. All raw materials needed to prepare the organic fertilizer are things found around us. These include ordinary things such as sawdust, chicken stools, cocoa pods, dead weeds, and ashes. We just mix with water, keep it on plantain leaves and turn it over periodically. And after roughly 3 months, the fertilizer is ready for use. With this, farmers can now get fertilizers for their cocoa farm at a relatively lower price and using organic fertilizer comes with a lot more benefit such it makes the land more fertilized compared to the artificial one,” said Francis Frimpong, the Treasurer of the group. He further made known that “the cost of a bag of an artificial fertilizer can buy 10 bags of organic fertilizer. Being able to produce the organic fertilizer by ourselves has really been beneficial to us and our fellow farmers.”