Supporting healthy and safe employment of women workers in the Ghanaian banana industry

The Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI) has gone a long way to support improved occupational health and safety (OHS) practices in the Ghanaian banana sector, with activities in other African countries to follow. An important development has also been the launch of the new ‘Guidelines on the healthy and safe employment of women workers in the Ghanaian banana industry’.



Conceptualized in 2014 with support from IDH, BOHESI is a train-the-trainer model to support OHS improvements in the banana sector. It has been developed in partnership with Solidaridad, Banana Link, and the World Banana Forum (WBF) and was launched in Ecuador in 2016, the largest global exporter of bananas.

Following the formal ratification of the BOHESI manual by the Ecuadorian government as the legal OHS guidelines for the banana sector in 2018, training and implementation of the BOHESI manual in Ecuador was far-reaching and successful. By the end of 2018, approximately 55,000 farm workers had been trained by the BOHESI manual in Ecuador, and have benefitted from improved health and safety practices and the establishing of health and safety committees within banana plantations and packhouses.

Parallel to training activities in Ecuador, BOHESI activities were also initiated in Ghana and Cameroon to support alignment between the adoption of health and safety practices in Ecuador and the key West African banana producing countries.


With co-financing from IDH, BOHESI Ghana was launched in April 2019 by Banana Link in collaboration with the Banana Producers Association (BPA) and the International Food and Agricultural Workers Union (IUF) and has included a series of successful tri-partite meetings and training workshops with producers, unions and the Ghanaian government.

The BOHESI manual was adapted to the Ghanaian context (incl. applicable agricultural and labor law), and a series of train-the-trainer trainings have been conducted to support the adoption and implementation of the manual within the sector. BOHESI activities have received active support from the three banana exporters in Ghana – Golden Exotics, Volta River Estates, and Musahmahat Farms.

Ghana is the only banana exporting country to have signed the ILO (International Labor Organization) Convention 184 on Safety and Health in Agriculture, the ratification of which is strengthened through the BOHESI training activities.

In addition, Banana Link have also supported the development of gender guidelines towards the assessment, prevention and control of specific health and safety risks relevant to women workers in the banana plantations and packhouses. The gender guidelines are attached to the BOHESI manual as an annex and have been published by Banana Link under a creative commons license here. The final BOHESI manual, together with the gender guidelines, was successfully launched in Ghana in February 2020.

The BOHESI project has been a unique experience for the banana industry in Ghana. It has allowed members of the BPA to work together with multiple stakeholders on a project critical to the industry and brought it to a successful end. This signals great potential for us in the future to successfully execute similar projects.

The focus we placed on the safety of women at the workplace and similar initiatives has enable us provide for our women and add onto the original work done in Ecuador and Cameroon. Hopefully that should benefit other plantations in other countries.

George KPORYE – Golden Exotics Limited, Ghana


In August 2019, BOHESI activities were launched in Cameroon, implemented by Banana Link. The BOHESI manual and the gender guidelines have been adapted to the Cameroonian context and are now available in both English and French. Activities will follow a similar train-the-trainer format to Ecuador and Ghana.

Initial training activities took place in Cameroon in March 2020, just prior to the implementation of a country-wide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the situation with Covid-19 in Cameroon allows, more train-the-trainer activities, as well as specific training for women workers, are planned, with the intention to launch the BOHESI manual during a tripartite meeting in November 2020.

The BOHESI project in Ghana has been an exciting opportunity not only to strengthen the capacity of both company and worker representatives on health and safety, but also to develop our understanding of the situation for women workers and how to address their specific health and safety needs at plantation level.

The learning from the BOHESI 'training of trainers' in Ghana and the new 'gender guidelines' will inform similar activities in Cameroon this year, and even further afield in Africa and Latin America as the initiative develops in other countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has of course posed a real challenge for the banana industry this year, and has limited the capacity of both company and worker BOHESI trainers to replicate training amongst their colleagues at local level, but it has also sent us all a very clear message on the need for a more sustainable and resilient industry that must be founded on the protection of the health and well being of its workforce.

Anna Cooper - Banana Link