NIGERIA – Cocoa stakeholders in Nigeria have called on the government at all levels to save the production of cocoa from extinction and enhance the capabilities of farmers to contribute to the diversification efforts of the Federal Government. 

At a two-day awareness campaign in Idanre and Ifedore local government areas of Ondo State, stakeholders emphasized the importance of cocoa as a valuable source of national wealth, distinguishing it from oil due to its stable pricing in the international market. 

The awareness campaign, named the Child Labour Education and Resilience (CLEAR) project, was organized by the Lutheran World Relief and funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in partnership with the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, and the International Labour Organization (ILO). 

Nene Akwetey-Kodjoe, chief of party at Lutheran World Relief, stated, “We need to eradicate using children for labor. What we are saying is that hard labor is not allowed; we need to do it right. We want those children out there to go back to school because education is general knowledge that will grow our brain.” 

Siji Ofoesuwa, program technical advisor at Lutheran World Relief, provided insights into the CLEAR project, emphasizing its goal to significantly reduce child labor practices among cocoa farmers in the state.  

The one-year project, spanning from October 2023 to the end of September 2024, aims to address the root causes of child labor, empower communities with limited education on the subject, improve net income from cocoa farming, and equip children of cocoa farmers with essential life skills. 

The Ministry of Education has also outlined a comprehensive plan to eliminate child labor in the state, including strengthening existing laws and policies for greater protection of children and harsher penalties for exploiters.  

The Ondo state government is taking steps to bring back out-of-school children, ensuring they are catered for by the state and enforcing strict penalties for those using children for labor. 

Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa pledged to address the acute shortage of classroom teachers in public primary and secondary schools, introducing reforms in the education sector.  

He also committed to the reintroduction of running grants to schools and enhancing school infrastructure for learners across all schools. 

Nigeria, the world’s fourth-largest cocoa producer and supplier, witnessed a 3.4 percent decline in the value of its global cocoa supply to 280,000 metric tonnes in the 2022–2023 season, as reported by the International Cocoa Organisation.  

Despite being a major cocoa producer, Nigeria exports the bulk of its cash crops raw, facing challenges related to low agro-processing and a lack of competitiveness in the global market. 

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