Child labour in cacao production - 2010

[PEREZGONZALEZ Jose D [ed] (2010). Child labour in cacao production. Journal of Knowledge Advancement & Integration (ISSN 1177-4576), 2011, pages 1-4.] [Printer friendly]

Child labour in cacao production

The following documentary by Panorama (20101, 2) provides some evidence of the existence of child labour in cacao production in 2009-2010. The summary that follows not only highlights visual evidence of child labour in cacao production in Africa (which is the actual data provided here), but also provides other statistical information commented during the documentary (which should be taken as indirect data, only).

Part 1 of 4

  • 80 million chocolate eggs were eaten in Easter in the UK (in 2010), and half-a-million tons of chocolate was consumed during the year.
  • Most of this chocolate would have been manufactured from cocoa beans cultivated in West Africa, especially in Ivory Coast and Ghana. Around 60% of the world's cocoa production comes from these two countries, where more than 10 million people depend on cocoa production and their governments do well in taxing it.
  • The neighbouring country of Burkina Faso is poor, in comparison, and many do a living smuggling children to work in the cocoa plantations of Ivory Coast and Ghana. Several thousand children are so trafficked each year. The reporter actually talked to 5 women who have lost one child each to smuggling.
  • The reporter also talked to 4 children in Northern Ghana who confirmed they were (trafficked) from Burkina Faso.
  • Trafficked children are not paid. The people who deliver the children (sometimes family members themselves) are the ones who get the money, instead.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines the worst forms of child labour as work "likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children", the "use of hazardous tools", and work that "interferes with schooling".
(Video embedded from YouTube on 17 April 2011)

Part 2 of 4

  • More than 100,000 Ivorian children work in conditions breaching ILO conventions. They may not have been trafficked, though, but work with their families in such conditions. In Daloa, the reporter found that children may work from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and do not go to school, as there is none nearby.
  • The average income in Ivory Coast is around GBP 1,0003 a year.
  • In Soubre, the reporter's team had also witnessed child labour in breach of ILO conventions.
  • The chocolate industry made USD 80 billion4 in profit in 2009. However, it had only invested USD 75 million5 in support of cocoa farming communities in the past 10 years.
  • In San Pedro port, where some half-a-million tons of cocoa beans are shipped every year, major exporters required paperwork showing the traceability of cocoa beans. However, independent traders usually buy cocoa without paperwork, and then, as licensed traders, can sell it to the major exporters, thus introducing that cocoa into the normal supply chain.
(Video embedded from YouTube on 17 April 2011)

Part 3 of 4

  • The reporter got first-hand information that 10 to 11 children in a village in Ghana may be trafficked children.
  • In the UK, only about 10% of chocolate bars carry the Fairtrade certification logo.
  • In principle, the Fairtrade programme also ensures the prevention of child labour in the production of cocoa. In fact, the reporter found a cocoa producer who had being suspended from trading with a Fairtrade co-operative for six months because he had being caught using children for labour. The cocoa producer further estimated that another 6 farmers in the area (thus, a total of 7) had being equally suspended for similar reasons. In fact, the reporter met two of the girls who had been trafficked to work in cocoa production farms in Enchi (Ghana).
  • Cadbury planned to invest GBP 45 million6 over 10 years in helping cocoa farmers.
(Video embedded from YouTube on 17 April 2011)

Part 4 of 4

  • The reporter got first-hand information that Ivory Coast cocoa producers supplying Fairtrade co-operatives still used child labour in cocoa production.
  • Nestle planned to invest GBP 65 million7 over 10 years in helping cocoa farmers.
  • Child trafficking often involves a family member, and whatever money they get from the child do not necessarily reverts back to their families. The reporter met mothers of children who were trafficked by male family members (fathers, brothers-in-law, uncles, sometimes with the passive support of the mothers or the own children's hope for a better future).
(Video embedded from YouTube on 17 April 2011)

In summary, the documentary team found the following first-hand or secondary evidence of child labour in cocoa farms in Africa:

Ghana Ivory Coast Burkina Faso
10 to 11 children in a village may have been trafficked. Four of these children appear on screen, and one of them is finally rescued and returned home. One child talked of unspecified children in his village, working long hours and not having a school. Six women reported to have lost one child to traffickers each. One of these women will get her child back during the programme.
7 cocoa farmers had been temporarily suspended from trading under the Fairtrade programme.
Two girls had been trafficked for work in the recent past.


Jose D PEREZGONZALEZ (2011). Massey University, New Zealand (JDPerezgonzalezJDPerezgonzalez).

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