Nestle Ghana Limited in collaboration with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), a non-governmental organisation, has rescued a total of 975 children who were at risk or involved in child labour in cocoa growing areas in the Ashanti Region.
In all, 776 of the children are being provided with educational materials by Nestle Ghana through its Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) to go back to school, while the others are being supported to learn a trade.
At a durbar organised at Ayokoa in the Adansi Asokwa District in the Ashanti Region, the Programme Coordinator of the ICI, Mr Prince Gyamfi explained that the programme was to ensure that children who were at risk of being forced into child labour or already involved in the practice are given the opportunity to go back to school or learn a trade that would make them productive in future.
He said the programme also supported parents of the children with alternative income-generating skills to enable them to continue to provide for the basic needs of their children.
Mr Gyamfi said some selected communities would also be supported to set up Community Service Groups (CSG) to provide alternative labour for cocoa farmers upon the withdrawal of the children from the farms.
He said the groups would be supported with training in good agricultural practices in cocoa cultivation and the provision of equipment such as a motorised mist blower, pruner, forceps, a ladder, a machete and protective gear for each member.
He advised parents not to expose their children to hazardous work as that could hamper their development and also affect their future.
A total of 445 farming households in 62 communities are benefiting from the CLMRS.
Some of the communities include Anyemi, Jacobu, Koniyaw, Ayokoa, Agogoso, Obonsu, Kwame Ntow or Aboo-KanKanfranse, all cocoa growing communities in the Ashanti Region.
The ICI donated school bags, school uniforms, exercise books notebooks, as well as footwear among others to the rescued children.