Government has for some time now been battling with the issue of rural livelihood development; how to empower the rural folk especially to make extra income from non-farm activities.
The General Agricultural Workers Union, aside having recorded successes in anti-child labour campaigns and some other livelihood development projects has shown the farmers of the Kwaebibrem district of the Eastern region the way forward.
The Union has organized a training workshop in Kade in the Eastern region to train 50 male and female farmers for improved skills and knowledge in appropriate and sustainable non-farm economic activities. Farmers who attended this training programme were taken through days of theoretical as well as practical classes on how to make maximum income from oil palm which is the main cash crop of the people from that district.
The facilitator for the workshop Ing. Charles Manu educated participants on the best practices in processing palm oil from the fruit to meet international requirements of buyers. He was of the view that "This training programme is a good initiative GAWU has introduced." He expected that after the workshop, farmers will be able to identify the business and income raising side of their farming activities.
Ing. Manu who works with Challen Consult in Kumasi and also a consultant for the Ghanaian Ministry of Trade and Industry said "Just like gold, cocoa and crude oil, palm oil can also fetch the country as much foreign income if not more, if the government pays more attention to it than it is doing currently." He was optimistic that very soon, oil palm will replace all of Ghana's exports.
The head of the Rural Workers Organisation Programme, Mr. Andrews Tagoe who is in charge of organizing the informal workers mainly farmers and fishermen into the Union was positive that the workshop going to help change the attitude of farmers in income generation.
"GAWU is interested and will help local manufacturers to produce quality oil in order to maximize the income of farmers", Mr. Tagoe said and further disclosed that the Union would soon organize oil producers into an association; give them more training and empowerment skills.
Mr. Tagoe who is also an Occupational Safety and Health Specialist stressed the need for farmers to work within conducive environment and not expose themselves to danger at the work place. He spoke about the need to use protective clothing and garment while at work and also hammered on the importance of not engaging in child labour as it is a part of the Stop Child Labour Campaign.
Mr. Tagoe commended the sponsosors of this project Dutch Trade Union (SNV), HIVOS and the International Labour Organisation for their help.