Rainforest Alliance, an international non governmental organization, and it partners International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) and Solidaridad Ghana, with funding from NORAD, have supported beneficiaries resident in the following seven communities: Asakyiri, Dejanso, Kusease, Subriso savior, Asokore, Bodoma and Aboaso of the Bekwai cocoa district in the Ashanti Region.
The support comes in the form of starter packs to enable beneficiaries start their own businesses with the aim of promoting good living standard among vulnerable parents, reducing child labour in these farming communities and reducing school dropout due to financial constraints.
The support, which was made through Baako Ye Cooperative, also includes school bags, exercise books, pens, pencils and cash to brilliant but needy students to enable these children identified to attend and stay in school.
This support forms part of the “Ye Ne Yen Mmofra No Nti” project which has introduced a Tool called the Human Rights Due Diligence Toolkit prepared for cocoa cooperatives, mining firms, gold associations, and groups operating in the cocoa and gold sectors of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and globally.
Baako Ye Cooperative was part of the groups which piloted the HRDD tool and used it to identify individuals who are vulnerable or involved in forced and child labour.
The President, Baako Ye cocoa farmers’ cooperative and marketing union, Mr. Opoku Acheampong explained that their cooperative is focusing on improving the living conditions and health status of people in under-served cocoa farming communities.The union, he said, was formed out small cooperatives across the Bekwai District, embarking on small missions and programmes geared towards improving standard of living.
He entreated the beneficiaries to take very good care of the items donated and money for business purpose, adding that: “We would consistently monitor your activities to examine how beneficiaries are making good use of donation for the success of the project.”
The Administrator of the union, Isaac Arhin, explained that support was then based on specific community or individual needs.“From our needs assessment, it was concluded that most of the interventions the farmers needed will be geared towards capital to start business and educational support” he said.
Evelyn Babine, a board member of the union, urged farmers in cocoa growing communities to join beneficiary associations like Baako Ye cocoa farmers’ cooperative and marketing union to enhance their welfare.“Our vision is to heal, rescue and lift people out of poverty” she said, stating that she was proud that lives were being impacted through the cooperative.
Senior Project Manager, Ye Ne Yen Mmofra No Nti Project, Joyce Poku-Marboah, believes that there is much more to be done for farmers and their households in these communities.
“I’m very excited about the progress so far towards eradicating child labour, our aim is to create awareness and build resilience of the vulnerable people both socially and economically and for us, getting the children back to school is an immediate solution, but making sure they remain in school is one of the reasons why their vulnerable parents and guardians are being supported with the knowledge, skills and resources to be financially and socially independent and empowered” she said.
The Chiefs of these communities expressed their appreciation to the Rainforest Alliance and their partners for coming to the aid of these venerable individuals and the community at large.“We are very happy, believing God that if we are able to do as led, we would be able to raise money to feed our families and train others to also become self-sufficient” they said.
Story by: Nana Yaw Reuben