A project to combat child labour in the country’s agricultural sector value chain was launched in Accra last Tuesday.
The initiative is intended to complement the government’s effort at eradicating child labour which is manifested in the form of forced labour, child labour (including the worst forms of child labour), human trafficking, debt bondage and unfair contract farming practices.
Known as: ‘Combating modern slavery in Ghana’, the project will be implemented in the Northern, Upper West, Bono, Ahafo and Oti regions.
The 11 beneficiary districts are Kpandai, East Gonja, Nanumba South, Sissala East, Wa East, Lawra, Jaman North, Jaman South, Tain, Nkwanta South and Jasikan.
In all, about 26,700 people are expected to benefit from the three-year initiative, which will be implemented in 100 communities.
It is being facilitated by ActionAid Ghana, an NGO, in collaboration with the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
The acting Country Director of ActionAid Ghana, Mr John Nkaw, mentioned other stakeholders in the implementation of the project to include ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies in the beneficiary regions.
“Others are like-minded civil society organisations (CSOs), victims and survivors of modern slavery and the media,” he added.
According to Mr Nkaw, the initiative was aimed at identifying, preventing and addressing child and forced labour within the agricultural sector, including children and women involved in agricultural plantations under conditions of servitude.
It would also enhance the knowledge of individuals and communities on modern slavery practices to enable them to act in concert to prevent such happenings, he said.
“Human trafficking, child and forced labour and its related forms of practices persist in the country and addressing them will go a long way to help us achieve the objectives of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly Target 8.7, which charges member states to ‘take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking,” he said.
The Deputy Head of Mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Ghana, Kyrre Holm, said eliminating child labour, human trafficking and debt bondage “is key to promoting decent work practices in the agricultural sector”.
He said the informal nature of the sector made the realisation of basic rights, particularly for women and children, very challenging, adding that the lack of a regulatory framework to address the menace of modern slavery exposed such a vulnerable group to harmful contractual terms and exploitation.
Mr Holm pledged the readiness of the Norwegian government to help Ghana’s effort at “reducing the prevalence of modern slavery, which requires concerted regional collaboration”.
The Head of the Agribusiness Unit at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Jeremy Agyemang, said achieving decent work in the agricultural sector was key to reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth, especially in rural areas.
According to him, improving the quantity and quality of jobs, promoting rights at work and strengthening farmer organisations were crucial for enhanced efficiency along the agricultural value chain.
Mr Agyemang commended ActionAid and GAWU for the initiative.