Ghanaian Cocoa Farmers To Sue Al Jazeera Over Child Labour Story

Source The Ghana Report

Cocoa farmers from Ohiampenipa in the Amenfi West District have denied utilising child labour on their farms as claimed by Al Jazeera.

They have therefore threatened to sue the media organisation for publishing a story that alleged that cocoa farmers in the area employ minors to work on the farms.

A television story aired by the international media house depicted a visit to Ohiampenipa where a number of children were working on the cocoa farms.

Al Jazeera, in its report, stated that the use of child labour has risen in cocoa farms in Ghana during the past decade despite industry promises to reduce it.

According to the report, the prevalence of children doing hazardous work, including using sharp tools, has also gone up.

These claims have infuriated the farmers, who have described the video as stage-managed.

“The Al Jazeera video circulating is false. They visited us and told us they were from Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and that they were to listen to our problems to help solve them not knowing they had ulterior motives “, they lamented.

They said the reportage has dented the good image of the Ghanaian cocoa industry.

“We will go all out to sue them,” the farmers stated.

Samuel Ofori Asare, a former Assembly Member of the area who was featured in the viral publication said the media team hid the purpose of the video from them.

“We were here one Sunday when they came and said they were from COCOBOD and that they want to meet the farmers to know their challenges and the kind of support they (the visitors) could offer.

“After listening to the farmers, the Al Jazeera pressman indicated that they wanted some of the farmers whose farms were nearby to go with them to demonstrate how the cocoa is planted and harvested,” he noted.

“As they were going, the pressmen from Al Jazeera asked if they could get some children to go with them so they can carry the baskets into which the cocoa pods would be harvested,” he added.

He said at the farm, the Al Jazeera journalists who spoke through a Ghanaian interpreter would tell the farmers what to do as they were filming.

“So they will tell a farmer to use the cutlass to harvest the pods from the tree and give it to the children to open them and the journalists were filming.”

Mr. Asare said they were surprised and they want the whole world to know that cocoa farmers in Ghana do not engage children to work on their farms and so all should disregard that report.

Meanwhile, the Ghana COCOBOD says its fact-finding mission following the report revealed that it was staged.

Cocobod added that the whole report was calculated to undermine the Ghanaian cocoa industry.

The Director of Special Services at the Ghana Cocobod, Charles Amenyaglo said the Cocoa industry is the oxygen of Ghana and will fight the powerful forces trying to undermine the cocoa industry.

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