Here are three things we learned in the process:
1. Robust systems: The two systems have complementary strengths. For example, A&A offers a systematic approach to identifying and mitigating the risks of child labor—from risk assessment and risk mitigation to child labor monitoring, a grievance mechanism, and human rights awareness raising across the group members. Whereas CLMRS allows ofi’s Ghanaian teams to monitor households that need more rigorous monitoring and remediation, like multiple household visits and interviews with each farmer group member.
2. Farmer training: The Rainforest Alliance training on A&A helped the ofi teams based in Ghana with additional training, tools, and procedures to further build upon the system they already had to address labor risks. In combination with the CLMRS, this has led to real results on the ground. Take the case of Bright Adu, the son of a farmer in ofi Ghana’s cocoa supply chain. Last year, via ofi’s existing monitoring and remediation system, he was found to be doing hazardous tasks on his family’s farm and often missed class. Together, we stepped in — explaining to his parents the consequences of child labor and providing school supplies. As a result, Bright got back into the classroom to focus on his education (pictured above with his family receiving school supplies).
It’s not just child labor issues that the A&A system can help solve. There is also a grievance and redress mechanism for farmers and workers to report any human rights abuses in their communities. For instance, in 2021, two cases of farmworkers not being paid were successfully addressed, demonstrating to others that it’s worth reporting issues instead of keeping them hidden.
3. Community engagement: Community support and engagement are key to success, but these relationships need to be fostered through outreach activities.
Changing commonly-held perceptions takes time, so it’s crucial to have a constant dialogue to create a lasting impact. For example, giving committee members a weekly or monthly stipend, travel allowance, or in-kind benefits, encourages them to be part of the solution by raising awareness and helping to solve child labor issues.
By the end of 2021, the Rainforest Alliance had trained 2,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana on human rights and child labor issues. The A&A system combined with ofi’s CLMRS gives us a solid foundation that puts farmer groups in the driving seat of their communities and helps shape our approach for the future.