The Deputy Director of Public Affairs, COCOBOD, Mr Fiifi Boafo, said while the board worked to resolve the grievances of the carriers, it was also ensuring that the carting of cocoa from take-over centres to the ports and from the ports for export was not affected.
He said it formed part of emergency measures put in place to ensure that the strike did not lead to a pile up of stocks at the centres, with the tendency to affect export contracts entered into between the board and its partners.
Mr Boafo was addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday on the current situation of the strike by cocoa carriers that started last week.
He also responded to allegations of child labour in the cocoa sector, as contained in a documentary by Joy News.
Resumption of work
The deputy director decried the industrial action by the carriers and said the board had reached an understanding with some of the carriers to resume work while efforts were made to convince the rest to follow suit.
“Unfortunately, not all of them have come back to work, but we do have some of them who have reconsidered the decision and are back to work. We are also putting in other plans to ensure that we do not get to a situation where this action will stifle our operations,” he added.
According to Mr Boafo, the board was also exploring other measures, including the option of fully automating the process.
He, however, said the management of COCOBOD was hastening slowly with that option because of its effect on job creation.
“We are talking about over 5,000 young men, so to say that we will get equipment to play that role will render them unemployed,” he said
COCOBOD aims to produce about one million tonnes of cocoa this season after hitting a record high output in the 2020/21 season.
Responding to the child labour documentary, the deputy director said COCOBOD had reported the issue to the police, who have since arrested the people involved, pending investigations.
“With the identified children, our offices are in touch with them to help us in understanding and appreciating the situation better,” he said.
Mr Boafo further said as the regulator of the cocoa industry, COCOBOD was very much interested in sustainability and, therefore, had adopted a policy of zero tolerance of child labour.
“COCOBOD takes very seriously any report which portrays a child of school age as having engaged in activities on a cocoa farm that could be construed as child labour.
“We and the government have taken a strong stance against child labour of any kind and condemn any act which undermines our effort at ensuring sustainability in the cocoa industry,” he said.
Mr Boafo said the issue of child labour had a negative impact on the reputation of a country on the international stage, for which reason COCOBOD did not subscribe to the practice.