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Joseph Wemakor: Large corporations supported by the government must end the abhorrent exploitation of Ghanaian cocoa farmers

The cocoa industry is one of the most important sectors in Ghana, contributing significantly to the country's economy. Ghana is the second-largest cocoa producer globally, with around 800,000 cocoa farmers. However, despite its importance, the industry faces a critical issue that threatens the livelihoods of cocoa farmers - the heinous exploitation of Ghanaian cocoa farmers by large corporations, which is encouraged by the government.

Large corporations buy cocoa beans from Ghanaian farmers at extremely low prices, paying them only a fraction of what they should be earning. Cocoa farmers have no bargaining power, and they have to accept the low prices offered by these corporations, as they have no other buyers.

To make matters worse, Ghanaian cocoa farmers are not paid in cash but in kind, receiving only a portion of their earnings while the remainder is kept by these corporations.

A study by Oxfam has found that more than 400 cocoa farmers in Ghana say their net income has fallen by an average of 16 per cent since 2020. For women, revenue has fallen by almost 22 per cent.

The report by Oxfam, published in anticipation of World Fair Trade Day on 13 May, says that nine out of 10 farmers are in worse shape than before the pandemic, while the four largest chocolate producers - Hershey, Mondelez, Nestlé and Lindt - have increased their profits by 15 billion dollars.

"A lot of money is made from chocolate, but this is not the case for most cocoa farmers in Ghana," says Bart Van Besien, policy officer at Oxfam Belgium.

"They work very hard and bear many risks and the increasingly high costs of growing cocoa, but they can't even earn a living income for their families. The focus of the chocolate giants is mainly on producing more and more. But if the farmers don't get a fair price for their cocoa beans, 'sustainable' or 'exploitation-free' chocolate remains a goal we will never reach.

” The Oxfam report Towards a Living Income for Cocoa Farmers in Ghana examined the sustainability programmes of 10 of the largest chocolate manufacturers and traders in Ghana.

The companies say they want to focus on increasing cocoa production. However, Oxfam's research shows the opposite. Crop yields from cocoa farmers in the companies' supply chains have fallen by as much as 25 per cent since 2020.

The companies' strategy to increase production is inadequate for farmers to achieve a living income or cover costs for food or other basic needs such as clothing, housing, and medical care. Ghana produces about 15 per cent of the world's cocoa beans.

It is the world's second-largest producer of cocoa beans but receives only about 1.5 per cent (2 billion dollars) of the chocolate industry's estimated annual value of 130 billion dollars. About 60 per cent of all cocoa in the world goes to Europe.

The exploitation of cocoa farmers has long been a problem in Ghana, and the government, instead of addressing the issue, has encouraged it. The government obtains a percentage of the profits made by these corporations, and this has led to the government turning a blind eye to the plight of these farmers. With an estimated 60% of cocoa farmers living below the poverty line, the issue is critical, and the government should be acting to ensure that these farmers receive a fair and just price for their cocoa beans.

The exploitation of cocoa farmers has far-reaching effects, and it's not only limited to economic implications. It also has environmental implications. Cocoa farmers in Ghana resort to unsustainable farming practices such as slash and burn, which destroy the environment. With the low prices offered for cocoa beans, the farmers cannot afford to invest in environmentally sustainable farming methods.

The environmental damage is further compounded by the fact that the government has also encouraged the clearing of forests for cocoa plantation expansion.

In addition to low prices, cocoa farmers also face other challenges. They lack access to essential resources such as fertilizer, good-quality seedlings, and training, which are crucial to growing high-quality cocoa beans.

They also lack access to market information, which puts them at a disadvantage when negotiating prices with buyers. The government has a key role in addressing these issues, but it has failed to do so, leading to the current dire situation of cocoa farmers in Ghana.

The exploitation of cocoa farmers in Ghana has led to a decline in the quality of cocoa produced. As they cannot afford to invest in good quality seedlings and fertilizer, the quality of their cocoa beans is affected, leading to lower prices. This downward spiral has made it almost impossible for farmers to make a decent living from cocoa farming, and many have had to abandon the industry altogether.

The situation of Ghanaian cocoa farmers is dire, and urgent action is required from all stakeholders to address the issue. The government must prioritize the needs of the farmers over its share of the profits made by these corporations.

The government should create policies that protect the welfare of cocoa farmers and provide them with access to essential resources. These policies should be enforced to ensure that the farmers receive a fair price for their cocoa beans.

The media plays a crucial role when it comes to exposing to light issues of wrongdoings, corruption and exploitation among others.

With regards to reporting on the exploitation of cocoa farmers by large corporations in Ghana and Ivory Coast for that matter Africa, the media’s role is key in bringing about change.

Through in-depth investigative journalism, the media can uncover and reveal the harsh realities faced by these farmers, who often work under difficult conditions and receive low wages.

By shining a light on these injustices, the media can bring attention to the issue and put pressure on corporations to improve the situation for the farmers.

Through their reporting, the media also has the power to educate the general public on the impact of their consumer choices and inspire them to demand fair and ethical practices from the chocolate companies they support.

Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG), a vibrant advocacy group which brings together young journalists, editors, lawyers and human rights activists to advance human rights must also demonstrate its commitment to the cause and support the advocacy to bring an end to the injustices being perpetrated against the poor cocoa farmers and put pressure on the governments to ensure their welfare and rights are protected.

Corporations that exploit cocoa farmers should also be held accountable for their actions. These corporations should be required to pay fair prices for cocoa beans and provide farmers with access to essential resources.

They should also invest in sustainable farming practices to protect the environment and ensure the longevity of the cocoa industry in Ghana.

In conclusion, the exploitation of Ghanaian cocoa farmers by large corporations, encouraged by the government, is a grave issue that threatens the livelihoods of these farmers and the sustainability of the cocoa industry in Ghana.

Urgent action is required from all stakeholders particularly the media, human rights advocacy groups, government and corporations to protect the rights of cocoa farmers and ensure that they receive a fair price for their cocoa beans.

Sustainable farming practices should also be encouraged to protect the environment and guarantee the longevity of the industry.

By Joseph Kobla Wemakor

The writer is a staunch human rights activist, National SDGs Champion and Founder/Executive Director of Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG)

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Morgan International Community School celebrates 10th Anniversary, graduates seventh batch of Baccalaureate Students

Morgan International Community School (MICS) in Ghana celebrated its 10th anniversary and graduated its seventh batch of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) students on Saturday June 3, 2023.

MICS, located at Gomoa Manso, a small town in the Central region of Ghana, has become a center of academic excellence, providing quality education to students from Ghana and beyond.

The graduation ceremony, held at the school’s campus was a colorful event that attracted students, parents, academics, government appointees, chiefs and traditional authorities, crème de la crème of the society and dignitaries from across the country.

It was on the theme: “Excellent Endeavours: A Decade of Collaborative Learning Amid Challenging Times”.

The graduates, dressed in their academic robes and mortarboards, walked proudly to receive their diplomas. The ceremony was a testimony to the hard work, dedication, and commitment of the graduates and their teachers.

The school's administrators, staff, and students were all excited to celebrate the school's momentous 10th anniversary and the graduation of the seventh batch of IB students.

Delivering a keynote address on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor of University of Cape Coast at the event, Provost of College of Education Studies, University of Cape Coast, Prof. Ernest K. Davis commended Morgan International Community School for contributing to preparing high-quality human resources equipped with 21st century skills in a bid to help solve the world’s problem for the past year through the delivery of quality, relevant and holistic education in Ghana and beyond.

He urged all and sundry to acknowledge the fact that provision of quality, relevant and holistic education is a collective responsibility, adding: “all of us must therefore play our part to ensure that the future generation obtains high quality, relevant and holistic education”.

Speaking at the ceremony, the school's Founder, Reverend Obed Danquah addressed the graduates, reflecting on their years at MICS including their contributions and encouraged them to make a positive difference in the world.

“You are the sparkling lights of our school community, our graduating class. Your tenacity, determination, and dedication to personal development have brought you to this critical milestone.

As you go on new adventures, may you carry with you the information, skills and values you learned at Morgan International Community School. I have confidence that you will continue to have a positive impact on the world and reach incredible heights,” he said.

In commemoration of a decade of transformative education, growth and achievements chalked by the school, Rev. Danquah attributed it to the combined efforts of the school’s committed instructors, industrious staff, passionate students and supportive parents.

“We have worked together to create a lively community that represents the principles of quality, diversity, and a love of lifelong learning”, he posited.

In his concluding remark which he captioned: “10-year-old journey and the way forward of MICS”, Rev. Obed Danquah outlined the vision of the school in the next decade.

He revealed that looking ahead in time, and bearing in mind the era of technology, the school envisages to enhance its teaching and learning abilities in training students who have career aspirations in Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is hoped to positively divert employment from the year 2027.

“They would be prepared towards areas of industry relevant curriculum such as Python, Machine learning, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Natural Networks and Deep Learning etc.

We hope to engage such trainers from India in particular, where AI educational settings seem more vibrant in recent years. Therefore, beginning next academic year, MICS shall start an extra-curriculum in Artificial Intelligence to attract students into this area of new career path”, he further noted.

According to him, the proposed curriculum in addition to the national program would efficiently position MICS towards greater achievements in all areas of academic endeavours to prepare students to reach greater heights wherever they find themselves and to help bring a change in global economic, political, educational and financial environment.

In a speech delivered on behalf of Rev. Ntim Fordjour, the Deputy Minister for Education, Mrs Sheila Naah-Boamah, Technical Advisor Pre-Tertiary Education at the Ministry of Education congratulated the founder, board and members of Morgan International Community School for their 10th year of existence and sustaining jobs in the Gomoa Manso community over the past ten years.

Conveying the kind words of the Deputy Education Minister to the school on a day which marks its 10th anniversary day, Mrs. Naah-Boamah maintained that the Ministry was excited to be invited to grace the momentous occasion and equally observe the excelling performances put up by the school.

While congratulating the graduates for excelling in their academic laurels, she said: “I believe you felt very confident and prepared for the next level ahead. Observing the pride with which you took your various awards, I see that you’re excited to be moving on and watching the joy of parents, I encourage you to repeat if not improve upon your performance to give your parents many more opportunities to celebrate your performance”.

Reacting to the vision shared by the founder of MICS, Rev. Obed Danquah in his concluding remark which highlighted the school’s plan to enhance its teaching and learning abilities in training students who have career aspirations in Artificial Intelligence in the next decade, she said: “we will continue to see how this vision integrate with outgoing academic policies and ensure that by the deadline he has given we will have students not just from Morgan International Community School but from Ghana as a whole producing pupils to participate at the highest level in evolving demands of the world of work”.

Head of the School, Ms. Cecilia Adzo Wofesor in her welcome address lauded the graduands for their successes and reminded them of their roles in life demanded by the world which encompasses manifestations and great impact.

He charged them to go into the world knowing that they have acquired all the prerequisite skills and traits to survive and thrive in their communities.

“I urge you all to not forget the values and skills imbued in you by the school. As you leave the school, be ambassadors of the school and help maintain or increase the set standards of Morgan International Community School”, she said.

The valedictorian of the graduating class, Grace Elinam Ahadjie, also addressed her fellow graduates, thanking the faculty and staff for their immense support and encouragement.

“The journey of undertaking the IBDP curriculum here at Morgan International Community School has been a challenging one but one for which we are immensely grateful for because it has molded us into better versions of ourselves. There were times, we got to our wit ends but our teachers encouraged us”.

For his part, the school's Deputy Head, Bright Andoh congratulated the graduating students while highlighting the importance of the IB program in preparing students for their future endeavours. He also expressed his gratitude to the parents and teachers for their unwavering support, which played a significant role in the students' success.

The graduating class of 2023 comprised 17 students, 15 of whom were Ghanaians, while the rest were from the United States and Germany. The students had successfully completed the International Baccalaureate programme, one of the most rigorous and respected academic qualifications globally.

The ceremony witnessed the recognition of some deserving students for their outstanding achievements and hard work.

Grace Elinam Ahadjie was adjudged the Best Academic Performer-IBDP, while Trudy Afua Asaaba Sackey emerged Best Academic Performer-IGCSE.

The Best Academic Performer Lower Secondary goes to Sonia Inkum while Vanessa Osafo-Kwaako picked up the Best Academic Result-IGCSE.

The Best Academic Result-Checkpoint Examination went to Alfred Osafo Kwaako while Papa Kwesi Otoo Amoo was named the Most Innovative Student including Yayra Boven Fiahagbe who was declared the Well-rounded Student Award winner.

For the sports category of awards, Adwoa Molly Amoo was adjudged the Best in Sports-Girls while Seth Devin Owusu was named winner for the Best in Sports-Boys.

The event climaxed with the cutting of the school’s 10th year anniversary cake which was performed by the Rev. Obed Danquah with support of management and some dignitaries.

The International Baccalaureate programme is designed to prepare students for university education by offering them a broad-based, holistic, and challenging curriculum. The programme emphasizes critical thinking, research skills, community service, and intercultural understanding. It also promotes international-mindedness, preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of the globalized world.

The IB programme at MICS has been a success story. Over the years, MICS has consistently produced top-performing students, with many of them earning scholarships to study at prestigious universities around the world. The IB programme has created a culture of academic excellence at MICS, attracting students who are passionate about learning and are willing to work hard to achieve their goals.

The graduates of the MICS Class of 2023 have made their mark in various fields of study. Some have been accepted to Iowa State University in the United States, while others have secured places at top-ranked universities in Europe and Asia. They are poised to make a positive impact in their respective fields of study and contribute to the development of Ghana and the world at large.

The success of MICS can be attributed to the vision and leadership, its founder Reverend Obed Danquah who established the college in 2013.

Rev. Danquah recognized the need for a world-class institution that would provide high-quality education to students in Ghana and beyond within an environment that is culturally responsive.

MICS has lived up to that vision, offering courses in Sciences, Humanities, Arts and Languages with a school curriculum designed to be rigorous and stimulating.

Morgan International Community School is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS), Ghana Education Service (GES) National Schools Inspectorate Authority (NaSIA), Cambridge International Education (CIE) and is recognized by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)

The school provides a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum that is designed to give students an opportunity to develop their academic and social skills, as well as their cultural understanding.

Its curriculum is designed to promote academic excellence, promote multiculturalism, and instill strong ethics and values

Some other curriculum offered by MICS include the Cambridge Upper Secondary (IGCSE), Lower Secondary and Primary Programs for students.

The school's IB program is particularly renowned as it is recognized as one of the most rigorous and comprehensive academic programs globally. It focuses on developing critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. It also places a strong emphasis on community service and encourages students to take an active role in local and global issues.

The school's achievements have been significant since its establishment in 2011, and it has continued to grow each year. This growth can be attributed to the school's relentless pursuit of excellence in education and commitment to delivering excellent learning outcomes to its students.

Morgan International Community School's success is not only measured by its academic achievements but also by the achievements of its alumni. The graduates from MICS have gone on to pursue successful careers in various fields and have made significant contributions to their respective communities.

As MICS celebrates its 10th anniversary, the college is committed to building on its achievements and contributing to the development of Ghana and the world.

Source:Joseph Kobla Wemakor

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North East Region: Jawani to witness the biggest community durbar on World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2023

SmartRiz Africa, a non-governmental organization has partnered the Future African Leaders Foundation, INSPIRE HER and the Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG) to hold the biggest community durbar at Jawani, a community located at the Mamprusi East District in the North East Region of Ghana aimed at sensitizing the masses on menstrual health hygiene practices including how the community can get government support to remain safe and healthy.

The much-anticipated mammoth event, which is the first of its kind to hit the Jawani community is being organized in commemoration of this year’s World Menstrual Hygiene Day slated for Sunday May 28, 2023.

The goal of the community durbar is to raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene and empower girls and women with the knowledge and resources they need to manage their periods safely and with dignity.

The event will feature educational sessions, community discussions, and demonstrations on proper menstrual hygiene practices, such as the use of sanitary pads and the disposal of menstrual waste as well as the significance of World Menstrual Hygiene Day celebration.

It is equally an avenue to make their grievances known and to pave way for their calls to be directed to government with the aim that it would respond positively and urgently to their plight towards the removal of the 20% luxury tax on menstrual hygiene products in the country.

The event is expected to be climaxed with the distribution of over 1,000 free sanitary pads among the women and girls in the Jawani community to ease their burden during their menstrual periods.

Team Lead for SmartRiz Africa, Portia Manyaya speaking in an interview with the ahead of the event assured of its outfit’s readiness backed by full support of partners to make the event a success.

While lamenting the plight of the girl child on daily basis with regards to the affordability and accessibility of menstrual pads to cater for their hygiene during their periods, she quickly called for their support, adding “let’s come together and help the girl child have pride during her period”.

Ms. Manyaya therefore appealed to the authorities to help remove the 20% luxury tax imposed on the sanitary materials with urgency so that the product can be affordable and accessible to the girl child especially the rural girls who are the most vulnerable as their basic right to cushion them throughout their monthly menstrual periods.

Menstrual health and hygiene remain a taboo topic in many communities, particularly in Africa, where cultural and traditional beliefs often lead to girls and women being stigmatized and ostracized for their natural bodily functions.

This has resulted in a lack of education and awareness about menstrual health, leading to health complications and negative social outcomes.

The partnership between SmartRiz Africa, Future African Leaders Foundation, INSPIRE HER and the Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG) including other supporters are critical to the success of the event.

SmartRiz Africa is a social enterprise that specializes in eco-friendly menstrual hygiene products. Their products are made from organic and biodegradable materials, providing sustainable and affordable alternatives to traditional menstrual products. Human Rights Reporters Ghana, on the other hand, is a reputable non-governmental organization that focuses on human rights advocacy and education.

Through their partnership, they will work together to leverage their expertise and resources to raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene in Ghanaian communities.

The community durbar is an essential initiative that addresses a critical public health issue in Ghana and globally. According to UNICEF, one in ten African girls misses school during their period, which translates to a significant loss of education and opportunities.

Additionally, inadequate menstrual hygiene practices have been linked to various reproductive and urinary tract infections, which can lead to infertility and other long-term health complications.

Partnerships like this between social enterprises and non-governmental organizations are vital in addressing complex social issues.

The collaboration provides a comprehensive approach to problem-solving that involves community engagement, education, advocacy, and sustainable solutions. Moreover, it highlights the importance of cross-sectoral partnerships in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality).

In conclusion, the community durbar on menstrual health and hygiene is a much-needed initiative that addresses a persistent social issue in Ghanaian and African communities.

The event will empower girls and women with the knowledge and resources they need to manage their periods safely and with dignity, ensuring that they can stay healthy, attend school, and reach their full potential.

The SmartRiz Africa, Future African Leaders Foundation, INSPIRE HER and the Human Rights Reporters Ghana partnership demonstrates the power of collaboration in sustainable development, emphasizing the critical role that social enterprises and non-governmental organizations play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Source: Joseph Kobla Wemakor|

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