Ghanaian cocoa farmers to sue Al Jazeera over child labour story
Cocoa farmers at Ohiampeanika in the Amenfi West District of the Western Region have vehemently denied using child labour on their farms.
They have, therefore, threatened to sue Al Jazeera, an international media organization that published a television story to the effect that cocoa farmers in the area engage children to work on their farms.
The TV report by the Qatar-based media organization which went viral indicated, among others, that a visit to the farming community revealed children working on cocoa farms.
The farmers, who are infuriated by the video circulating, have described the news item 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.
The visibly angry farmers asserted that what the international media organization did has dented the country’s cocoa sector in the eyes of the international community, adding: “We will go all out to sue them”.
A former Assembly member for the area, Samuel Ofori Asare, who featured in the Al Jazeera video, said the media house never told them they were going to do a news story.
“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.
He said one of the farmers called Owusu Gyan alias Daffa, whose farm was nearby, opted to go with them.
“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 Daffa’s brother’s three children who are all in school and had closed from church on that Sunday were asked to change quickly and went to the farm with them.
He continued: “So in 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.
“So as for us, we are here waiting for the support they promised only to hear that there had been an Al Jazeera TV report indicating that farmers in this community use child labour on their farms.
“In fact, we were surprised and we want the whole world to know that cocoa farmers here do not engage children to work on their farms and so all should disregard that report. Ghanaian cocoa farmers don’t use child labour on their farms,” he stressed.
The Director of Special Services at COCOBOD, Charles Amenyaglo said what transpired was criminal and that a report had subsequently been lodged with the police.
He appealed to all those who played a part in the story to cooperate with the police particularly when they are called to give their statements.