Change the World with Chocolate I t is a little-known but distressing fact that much conventionally-produced chocolate utilises child labour. This Easter, you can help to change that. This section is dominated by a handful of chocolate giants that profit from keeping the cacao purchasing price as low as possible. As a result, farmers are forced to live in
the result of exploitation at the beginning of the supply chain, where people live in extreme poverty, that is not right. The cacao supply chain is shaped like an hourglass. At one end, there are the farmers who produce the cocoa; in the middle, there are a few multinationals, and at the other end, there are billions of consumers who eat the chocolate. The bit in the middle is where it goes wrong. Big chocolate companies keep the price they pay farmers inhumanely low, so they are caught in a poverty trap which leads directly to child labour and modern slavery. Farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast only receive the fixed farm gate price per kilo set by their governments, and are rarely encouraged to operate more professionally and improve the quality of their crop. The fact that farmers do not receive more than the farm gate price for their cacao is not the only problem. Many farmers produce only 30-40 percent of what they could, because they do not have the knowledge or equipment they need to improve productivity. Old trees produce fewer beans, but the farmers can’t afford new ones. And even if they run their farms more professionally, they still are just not paid enough for their cacao.
There is a painful truth about chocolate that most chocolate lovers don’t know. Dirt-cheap chocolate prices are only possible because children as young as six are trafficked and forced to work on cacao plantations. According to the 2018 Cacao Barometer, there are as many as two million child labourers in West Africa alone, many of whom were kidnapped and forced into the servitude of the chocolate industry. Smugglers are paid to traffic children from countries like Mali and Guinea into the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Algeria. Modern slavery How on earth does modern slavery exist in 2023? The problem arises with the chocolate supply chain. This chain starts with millions of farmers who produce cacao and ends with the consumers who enjoy chocolate. But what about the bit in between?
Big chocolate companies keep the price they pay farmers inhumanely low, so they are caught in a poverty trap which leads directly to child labour and modern slavery.
poverty, leading to child labour and slavery. Now, there is nothing wrong with companies making a profit – they would go broke without it. However, when profit is
ISSUE 66 • 2023
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