Cocoa Production: the Cost is too High and too Low

  • A 1998 report from the Ivory Coast office of UNICEF concluded that some Ivory Coast farmers use enslaved children, many of them from Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo.
  • The 2001 report “A Taste of Slavery: How Your Chocolate May be Tainted” won a George Polk Award. It claimed that traffickers promise paid work, housing, and education to children who are forced to labour and undergo severe abuse, that some children are held forcibly on farms and work up to 100 hours per week, and that attempted escapees are beaten. It quoted a former slave: “The beatings were a part of my life” and “when you didn’t hurry, you were beaten.”
  • Some children from Sikasso, Mali, were believed sold as slaves; 15,000 children from Mali, some under age 11, were producing cocoa in the Côte d’Ivoire. Mali’s Save the Children Fund director described “young children carrying 6 kg of cocoa sacks so heavy that they have wounds all over their shoulders.”
  • Many Ivory Coast cocoa plantations use forced labor. A ship was found near West Africa allegedly carrying child slaves.
  • The Chocolate Manufacturers Association acknowledged that slaves harvested some cocoa.
  • S. Chanthavong reported in 2002 that children in neighboring countries are often found traveling or begging and lured to the Ivory Coast, where they are sold.
  • A 2005 report from the International Labor Organization noted that of the 200,000 children working on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, 12,000 are not working with or in the vicinity of their relatives, suggesting possible trafficking in a maximum of 6% of cases of child labor.
  • A 2006 study showed many children working on small farms in the Ivory Coast, often on family farms. Over 11,000 people working on small Ivorian cocoa farms were surveyed.
  • Another book was published: Carol Off, Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet.
  • UNICEF’s Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, stated in 2007 that:

    Likewise, children from neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali are brought to Côte d’Ivoire to work in its robust cocoa farming industry, among other outlets for child labour. Their rights are not respected and they are exposed to wide-ranging exploitation and abuse.

  • The International Labor Organization, the BBC and Stop the Traffic released reports on the subject.
  • A report funded by the U.S. Department of Labor concluded that “Industry and the Governments of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have taken steps to investigate the problem and are implementing projects that address issues identified in the Protocol.”
  • Fortune magazine reported in 2008 that “little progress has been made” in a report featuring responses from Cargill and Hershey’s.

In June 2009, the OECD released a position paper on child labor on West African Cocoa Farms, and launched a website on its Regional Cocoa Initiative.

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All of this pain and suffering comes from us wanting to spend 50 cents on a chocolate bar… we don’t even really consider where it comes form or how much or little the workers are being paid; or in this case little to nothing.  And we ignore it… I mean we’re used to having illegal aliens do our work for us at cheaper prices here… why not do it abroad.  Like in the Ivory Coast, one of the worst slave driven places on the planet.

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