A Rural Development Perspective on the Use of Children in Ghana’s Cocoa Farms

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness and Extension Faculty of Agriculture College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, KNUST

2 Faculty of Agriculture

3 AAMUSTED, Mampong-Kumasi


This study takes a rural development perspective to examine the various reasons behind the use of children under 18 years in cocoa farms in Ghana. Using descriptive research, a sample size of 385 cocoa farmers was selected through the multi-stage sampling technique. The analyses included mean, standard deviation, frequency, percentage, and perception index. Although the level of usage of children on cocoa farms was relatively low (74%), majority of the children were involved in nursing of cocoa seedlings (87.8%), digging of holes for seedlings (76.3%), gathering of pods (55.7%) and heaping of pods (53.9%). Farmers involved children on cocoa farms for the following three reasons; to acquire indigenous knowledge of farming patterns (Mean=2.18), it is a way of life to learn their parents' occupation (Mean=2.18), and income source of the household (Mean=2.11). The challenge most farmers face in the use of children for farm activities is the fact that the children do not meet the required strength/energy (Mean=2.48). Policy efforts towards the complete eradication of using children under 18 years on cocoa farms must take into consideration the rural nature of the environments in which cocoa farming takes place in order not for it to backfire as is the case currently.


Main Subjects

ACHD (2004). Report on the Rapid Assessment on Child Labor in Selected Cocoa Growing Communities in Ghana, Study commissioned by ILO/IPEC/WACAP, African Centre for Human Development, Accra, Ghana.
Afenyadu, D. (2010). Child labor in fisheries and aquaculture, a Ghanaian perspective. FAO Workshop on Child Labor in Fisheries and Aquaculture, Rome April, 14–16.
Amu, M. E. K., Akaba, S., Oduro, A. A. I., Quarcoo, R. (2014). Contribution of child labor to children’s schooling in and around the University of Cape Coast, Asian Journal of Educational Research Vol. 2, No. 1
Anaglo, J., Boateng, S. D., Swanzy, F. (2014). The influence of the adoption of improved oil palm production practices on the livelihood assets of oil palm farmers in Kwaebibirem District of Ghana, Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare, 4, 1,88-94.
Asamoah, P. K. B., Adubofour, S. B., Obodai, J., & Agyemang, F. O. (2018). The Use Of Children In Cocoa Production In Sekyere South District In Ashanti Region, Ghana: Is This Child Labor Or Apprenticeship Training? International Journal of Agricultural Research, Innovation and Technology (IJARIT), IJARIT Research Foundation, vol. 8(1), June.
Augendra, B. (2008). Defining child labor: a controversial debate. Dev. Practice. 18(3): 385–394.
Bass, L.E. (2004). Child Labor in Sub-Saharan Africa, Boulder CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers
Basu, K., & Zarghamee, H. (2009). Is a product boycott a good idea for controlling child labor? A theoretical investigation. J. Dev. Econ. 88 (2): 217–220.
Berlan, A. (2013). Social sustainability in agriculture: an anthropological perspective on child labor in cocoa production in Ghana. The Journal of Development Studies, 49(8), 1088–1100.
Bøås, M., & Huser, A. (2006). Child labor and cocoa production in West Africa. The Case of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Fafo-Report, 522.
Bourdillon, M. (2014). ‘Introduction: Children’s Work in Africa’, in M. Bourdillon and G.M. Mutambwa (eds), The Place of Work in African Childhoods [La place du travail chez les enfants africains], Dakar: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Buono, C., & Babo, A. (2013). Travail des enfants dans les exploitations de cacao en Côte d’Ivoire. Pour une réconciliation entre normes locales et normes internationales autour du « bic », du balai et de la machette, Mondes En Développement, 41.163: 69–84
Cockburn, J. (2000). Child Labor Versus Education: Poverty Constraints or Income Opportunities? https://www.researchgate.net/publication/253502691_Child_Labor_Versus_Education_Poverty_Constraints_or_Income_Opportunities#fullTextFileContent
Dankwa, J. B. (2001). Factors affecting adoption levels of cocoa technologies in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. University of Cape Coast.
Emerson, P.M., & Souza, A.P. (2011). Is Child Labor Harmful? The impact of working earlier in life on adult earnings. Econ. Dev. Cultural Change. 59: 345–385. 
Fors, H.C. (2012). Child Labor: A Review of Recent Theory and Evidence with Policy Implications. Labor: Demographics and Economics of the Family eJournal.
Franziska, H. (2009). The challenge of child labor in international law. Cambridge University 
GSS. (2012). Ghana Living Standards Survey 6 (With a Labor Force Module) 2012–2013, Round Six. http://www.statsghana.gov.gh/nada/index.php/catalog/72/studydescription Accessed Jul. 19, 2017
Humphries, J. (2010). Childhood and child labor in the British industrial revolution. Cambridge University. pp. 4-5.
ILO. (2007). Rooting out child labor from cocoa farms. Paper No. 1: A synthesis report of five rapid assessments. Geneva: R. Rinehart, International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), International Labor Organization (ILO). pp. 8-23.
ILO. (2010). Eradication of forced laborGeneral survey concerning the forced labor convention, 1930 (No. 29), Geneva, International Labor Organisation (ILO). pp. 18-21.
Jean-Marie, B., & Robinson, J.A. (2000). Are child labor inefficient? J. Political Econ. 108 (4): 663–679.
Jing, Z., Zhang, S., Zhang, N., Sun, M., & Zhou, C. (2022). The Effect of Parental Social Integration on the Physical Examination Utilization for Young Migrant Children: A National Cross-Sectional Study in China. Front. Public Health 9:755726. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.755726
Kumi, J. A. (2003). Factors affecting attitudes of cocoa farmers towards replanting of cocoa in the Kwaebibirem District of the Eastern Region. Ghana. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis). University of Cape Coast. Cape Coast, Ghana.
Kyeremanteng, K.A. (May 2007). The Extent of Exploitation of Child Labor in Cocoa Production in Ghana: A Case Study of the Asempaneye Cocoa District of the Western Region.
McCoy, T. (2018) Tackling Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector: An Industry Viewpoint of a Work in Progress, World Cocoa Foundation blog, 13 February (accessed 17 June 2020)
Meinzen-Dick, R. S., & Di Gregorio, M. (2004). Collective action and property rights for sustainable development.
MMDEY. (2005). A Child Labor Monitoring System in Five Districts in Ghana, Ministry of Manpower Development, Employment and Youth (First Report).
Mull, L. D., & Kirkhorn, S. R. (2005). Child labor in Ghana cocoa production: focus upon agricultural tasks, ergonomic exposures, and associated injuries and illnesses. Public Health Reports, 120(6), 649–655. doi: 10.1177/003335490512000613. PMID: 16350335; PMCID: PMC1497785.
Odonkor, M. (2007). Addressing child labor through education: A Study of Alternative/Complementary Initiatives in Quality Education Delivery and their Sustainability for Cocoa Farming Communities. Accra. pp. 17-24.
Owusu, V., & Kwarteye, A. (2008). An Empirical Analysis on the Determinants of Child Labor in Cocoa Production in Ghana, Kumasi: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (accessed 9 February 2021)
Ravallion, M., & Wodon, Q. (2000). Does Child Labor Displace Schooling? Evidence on Behavioral Responses to an Enrollment Subsidy. Economic Journal 110(March): C158-175 
Sadhu, S. et al. (2020) NORC Final Report: Assessing Progress in Reducing Child Labor in Cocoa Production in Cocoa Growing Areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, Chicago IL: NORC at the University of Chicago (accessed 12 April 2021)
Scott, M., Swortzel, K. A., Taylor W. N. (2005). The Relationships between Selected Demographic Factors and the Level of Job Satisfaction of Extension Agents. Journal of Southern Agricultural Education Research. 55, 1.
Tackie-Otoo, E. N. (2016). Cocoa Farmers’ Perceptions of the Factors Associated with Child Labor Use in Cocoa Production in the Sefwi Area of the Western Region of Ghana, University of Ghana
Thorsen, D. (2012). Children Working in Commercial Agriculture, Evidence from West and Central Africa, Briefing Paper 2, Dakar: UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office
Thorsen, D., & Maconachie, R. (2021). Children’s Work in West African Cocoa Production: Drivers, Contestations and Critical Reflections, ACHA Working Paper 10, Brighton: Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture, IDS, DOI: 10.19088/ACHA.2021.005
Tulane University. (2015). Final Report 2013/14 Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Growing Areas, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine [online] https://makechocolatefair.org/sites/makechocolatefair.org/files/newsimages/tulane_universit y_-_survey_research_on_child_labor_in_the_cocoa_sector_-_30_july_2015.pdf (Accessed on March 16)
Tulane University. (2009). Third annual report, oversight of public and private initiatives to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. p. 71.
Twum-Baah, K. A. (2003). Ghana Child Labor Survey, Ghana Statistical Service. Available from: URL: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/ghana/report/gh_rep.pdf.
Watson, A. M. S. (2008). The Child in International Political Economy: A Place at the Table. Routledge Francis and Taylor Group. 51 p
Yeboah, S. A. (2019). Childhoods in Ghana: Understanding the Work of NGOs as Cultural Brokers and Translators in Childhood Construction’, unpublished PhD thesis, Hong Kong Polytechnic University