Three schools in the Asuogyaman District in the Eastern Region, have benefitted from separate education projects undertaken by the Fairtrade Premium Management Committee (FTPMC) of the Volta River Estates Limited (VREL), a banana cultivation and export company.
With approval from the workers of the company, the FTPMC used a chunk of its Fairtrade premium to provide an ICT Centre, a two-unit classroom block and a four-unit junior high school block for the Akwamuman Senior High School at New Powmu near Akosombo.
It also built the Ankyease Early Childhood Development Centre at Ankyease and the B. Akoto Basic School at Senchi-Ferry.
The FTPMC had also provided scholarship schemes for 101 students at the senior high schools and tertiary levels.
The Chairman of the FTPMC, Mr Emmanuel Kedzi, who made these announcements at the FTPMC’s 21st Annual General Meeting at Akrade, near Akosombo in the Eastern Region on Tuesday stated that the committee spent a total of GH¢1.66 million on all its projects earmarked for the year 2018.
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He, therefore, commended the workers for approving the various investments made to improve livelihoods in the communities in which the VREL operated.
The VREL had been selling banana under the Fairtrade Certification since 1996.
The Fairtrade certification works under a system where designated products are sold under the trademark of the Fairtrade Organisation.
Such products are sold at premium prices with the intention of rewarding producers of those products with the premiums.
The premium is the additional sum of money paid on top of the Fairtrade minimum price that farmers and workers receive which can be invested in social, environmental and economic development projects to improve their businesses and their communities.
The farmers and workers themselves decide how the Fairtrade premium should be invested.
Touching on its health investments, Mr Kedzi stated that the committee registered a total of 426 workers and their dependants onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), last year.
He, however, expressed concern that some of the workers declined to participate in its health screening exercises organised for the workers and the members of the various communities in the district due to “some personal reasons.”
In random interviews, some of the workers expressed appreciation to the FTPMC for prioritising investment in the health and education sector.
That, they said would not only help to improve livelihoods in the area but also encourage the workers to work harder to boost productivity.
In an interview, the Headmistress of the B. Akoto Basic School, Mrs Ophelia Abla Domey expressed profound gratitude to the FTPMC for “responding to our needs when we contacted them for help.”
The new edifice, she said, would enhance teaching and learning in the school to improve on the academic performance of its pupils.
She however, appealed to the committee to come to its aid with a place of convenience to encourage punctuality on the part of the pupils.
For his part, the Managing Director of the VREL, Mr Huub Van Den Broek said the company was committed to providing better conditions of service for its workers.
That, he said, formed part of its decision to register with the Fairtrade Organisation in the year 1996.