When you take a sweet taste of chocolate do you consider how it is made? More importantly who works in the plantations? 43 per cent of the world’s cocoa is produced in the Ivory Coast of Africa. Those plantations enslave children to do the work.
In the Ivory Coast there is an estimated 10,000 child slaves. A total of 100,000 children work in the cocoa industry in the Ivory Coast. It’s difficult to identify how many are slaves as they labour beside their parents. Adding to the confusion on the number of slaves is the fact children in large numbers go to work in the plantations to escape the poverty of Mali. The Salvation Army’s anti-slavery co-ordination Captain Danielle Strickland says that it’s the responsibility of the chocolate manufacturers to make sure that their company is not using cocoa paste obtained by child slavery.
Nestle, Cadbury Schweppes and Mars Confectionery are all manufacturers that can not confirm if their chocolate is free trade. That Kit Kat bar that you enjoy may have cocoa paste harvested by a child slave.
“Given that Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) produces 43 per cent of the world’s cocoa you could say there is a 43 per cent chance your favourite chocolate bar has some beans produced by child slaves,” Strickland said. “There is no doubt the issue is complex, but if you are producing something you have a responsibility to find out what you are buying.”
US Congress drafted legislature in which the chocolate manufacturing industry agreed to a voluntary protocol to end abusive and forced child labour on cocoa farms by July 2005. Little though has changed.
“The cocoa companies trumpeted a few pilot programs, but continue to purchase and reap profits from child labour cocoa,” the US-based International Labor Rights Fund reports. “These child workers labour for long, punishing hours, using dangerous tools and facing frequent exposure to dangerous pesticides as they travel great distances in the gruelling heat. “Those who labour as slaves must also suffer frequent beatings and other cruel treatment.”
The Ivory Coast government has pledged to reform its cocoa sector by March 2008.
The only way to be sure that the chocolate that you enjoy is not made from these type of plantations is by looking at the label. If the chocolate doesn’t have a Fair trade label you may be adding to the problem without realizing it.