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Children bring us the cocoa

Actually, the report should be published longer, now it is here: A representative [study](/static/downloads/NORC 2020 Cocoa Report_English.pdf “Assessing Progress in Reducing Child Labor in Cocoa Production in Cocoa Growing Areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana”) of child labour in cocoa cultivation in Ghana and Ivory Coast from the University of Chicago shows that there is no progress in combating it.

The cocoa sector in the two countries employs 1.56 million children, most of whom do what is considered dangerous. For example, they must carry heavy loads or deal with pesticides. Forty-five percent of children in cocoa-growing areas worked in cocoa cultivation in the 2018/2019 season. Compared to the 2008/2009 season, the share has actually increased by 14 percentage points.

Manufacturers' commitment is already 19 years old

In a very euphemistic way, this means in the report: the proportion of children between the ages of 5 and 17 doing dangerous work would not have increased further, while cocoa production in Ghana and Ivory Coast increased by 62 percent over the period under study. No deterioration is therefore also an improvement in the prevailing circumstances.

As early as 2001, manufacturers such as Mars, Hershey and Nestlé had announced a commitment to reduce at least the worst forms of child labour in cocoa cultivation by 70 percent by 2015. Not least to avoid legislation in the UNITED States. The date was later postponed to 2020.

The study, commissioned by the US Department of Labor, has long been blocked by producer countries, who fear disadvantages from sanctions. Two-thirds of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, and its cultivation is an important economic factor. After parts of the as-yet-unpublished study became known, they required examination by independent experts.

Light: not everything is pointless

Despite the rather gloomy overall picture, the study also contains some bright ness: the proportion of children attending school regularly has increased in all age groups during the period studied, which researchers attribute to the activities of NGOs and the two state governments, such as the construction of schools and the recruitment of teachers. The children tended to go to school and only then work on the plantations.

Children bring us the cocoa

There are also individual indications that measures are bearing fruit and that the proportion of child labour is falling selectively. However, measures only had a significant effect if several of them were carried out in one area. So far, aid has been drip-drip rather than flowing, while the industry is running billions.

A few cents that make a difference

The 30 grams of cocoa needed for a bar of chocolate would cost the farmer about seven cents, Friedel Hütz-Adams of the German Südwind Foundation told the German “Tagesschau” in June. Consumers would hardly notice a few cents more in their wallets, but the cocoa growers would, if that few cents really ended up in West Africa – which, as we know from the example of the textile industry, will hardly be the case.