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Children still work for cocoa

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

A cocoa fruit  © Pixabay / Holiet
Still many children work in the cocoa production. The reasons for this are the great poverty of the cocoa farmers and the insufficient anti-child labor measures of the responsible companies. © Pixabay / Holiet

A new study proves: Around 1.5 million children work under exploitative conditions on cocoa plantations in West Africa. Around 70 percent of the cocoa processed in Germany is grown there.

Twenty years ago, chocolate manufacturers like Mars and Nestlé promised in the so-called Harkin-Engel Protocol to end the worst forms of child labor for cocoa by 2005. Since then, this goal has been postponed several times. The industry is currently striving to reduce child labor by 70 percent by 2020.

A new study commissioned by the U.S. Department of State and conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago now shows that this goal has also been missed: According to the study, around 1.5 million children in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire are engaged in exploitative child labor on cocoa plantations - that is 45 percent of all children in agricultural households in the cocoa-growing regions.

Thus, despite the previous efforts of governments and companies to combat child labor, it has not decreased in the last ten years. In particular, the percentage of children exposed to hazardous chemicals has actually risen sharply in recent years, complains the Inkota Network for Development Policy.

"Chocolate industry broke its promise"

"The chocolate industry has broken its promise," criticized Johannes Schorling, Inkota's business and human rights officer. The programs to combat child labor have so far only reached a small percentage of farmers, "partly because companies shy away from the high costs of such programs. But human rights do not come for free," Schorling said.

"We need prices that secure our existence and cover the production and living costs of cocoa farmers*," said Andrea Fütterer, Chairwoman of the Forum Fair Trade. Poverty is one of the main causes of child labor. "Even in industry initiatives such as the Forum Sustainable Cocoa, member companies have so far not fully complied with their human rights due diligence obligations," complained Fütterer. It is time to establish uniform rules for all companies.

Effective supply chain law required

Inkota and the Forum Fair Trade are therefore calling on the German government to introduce an effective supply chain law that would enable those affected by human rights violations to sue for damages in German courts.

Organic cocoa comes mostly from Central and South America and is grown without child labor. In West Africa, there are only a few organic and fair cocoa projects, also without child labor. The best known, Fairafric, also produces the chocolate in Ghana.



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