ILO’s ACCEL Africa Project Empowers Cooperatives in Nigeria’s Cocoa Value Chain

In Nigeria, the ILO’s ACCEL Africa Project is extending partnerships for the elimination of child labour and forced labour. The project strengthens support systems for farmers especially in the cocoa value chain, where child labour is prevalent.

News | 30 March 2022
In Nigeria, the ILO’s ACCEL Africa Project is working with a network comprising field trainers, managers of cooperative unions, members of cocoa farmers’ cooperative society and other supporting organizations in the cocoa value chain. The aim of this Dutch Government funded project is to eliminate child labour, in line with the country’s aspiration to attain SDG Target 8.7. by 2025.

From 7 to 11 March 2022, 40 stakeholders in the cocoa value chain were sensitized and enlightened on global good practices on child labour, forced labour, workers’ rights, freedom of association, good agronomic practices, pesticide usage, record keeping, better price negotiation, children education, child worker inclusion in negotiations, monitoring of school attendance, leadership and team building.

Facilitated in collaboration with the ILO’s tripartite partners and academics in the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), this Training of Trainers (ToT) follows upon recommendations from a 2020 gap analysis supported by the ACCEL Africa Project. The recommendations identified the sensitization and training of cooperatives as a priority response to addressing the child labour emergency.

Dr. Agatha Kolawole, the National Project Coordinator of the ACCEL Africa Project in Nigeria spoke at the commencement of the ‘Sensitization and Capacity Building Workshop for Cooperative Societies’ that took place on 7 March 2022 in Akure, Ondo State. She noted in her presentation cocoa cooperatives are critical stakeholders in the multifaceted, coordinated approach to eliminate child labour in agriculture.

Dr Kolawole indicated that the contributions of cooperatives to this shared responsibility will complement the recorded progression in behavioural change especially by members of focal communities in Fagbo 1 and 2, Ipoba 2, Aponmu, Oke Agunla, Ile Oluji/Oke Igbo, Bankemo and Wasimi. In these areas the community members are increasingly taking ownership of the interventions on the elimination of child labour through voluntary contributions to education funds for vulnerable children, school renovations and skills acquisition support.

Over 500 men and women members of cooperatives will be supported by the project to have better access to productive, welfare and financial services and to improve their capacity to address child labour issues in their own businesses.

While calling for support from all stakeholders, a participant at the workshop Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development) of FUTA, Professor Phillip Oguntunde suggested an extension of the Project to benefit more people. He noted ACCEL Africa provides hope for communities in bringing children out of child labour.

Temidayo Owolabi, a participant and a member of the Sustainability Team of Agro Traders, Alagbaka, suggested that,while there has been a great deal of engagement in the fight against child labour, the workshop has revealed other ways to help farmers and identified other potential partners, such as cooperatives, for achieving better results.

With the guidance of the consultant for the workshop, Dr. Akinnagbe Oluwole Matthew of the Department of Agricultural Extension and Communication Technology, FUTA; Dr Agatha Kolawole, ILO ACCEL Africa National Project Coordinator; Lydia Eke, ILO ACCEL Africa National Project Officer; and the contributions of Guy Tchami, Cooperative Policy and Research Specialist at ILO’s Cooperatives Unit in Geneva, the participants underwent practical sessions. These included understanding the different forms of child labour; the national and international legal frameworks regulating child labour; the benefits of eliminating child labour; recognizing the different forms of child labour existing within the activities of agricultural cooperatives, their members and relevant communities; specific actions for cocoa cooperatives to eliminate child labour, designing an action plan to eliminate child labour and support/monitor its implementation; and an action plan to address internal and external issues.

’I am pretty impressed about the depth and focus of the programme. What remains is the deepening of the implementation within Ondo State and in Nigeria as a whole."

Chuks Ofolue, Advocacy Manager, PIND (Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta)

The training incorporated a situated learning approach focusing on skills and competencies specific to cocoa farming practices by applying active experimentation, reproducing work-like situations, reinforcing participants’ capacity and acceptance to implement newly acquired knowledge. The training was based on ILO’s training programme on the role of agricultural cooperatives in the elimination of child labour jointly developed by the ILO’s Cooperatives Unit and FUNDAMENTALS Branch. The programme aims to build capacities of field trainers, so they are able to raise awareness about child labour among management, staff and members of agricultural cooperatives. It also aims to guide them through the development and implementation of a set of actions that will contribute to the elimination of child labour within the cooperative’s and members’ operations as well as in their communities.

In the coming weeks, participants are expected to step down the training to members of their cooperatives, apply best standards and ensure their contribution to the elimination of child labour by implementing their action plans and impacting their spheres of influence and beyond.

The presentation by Mr. Guy Tchami from ILO COOP can be found here.