Western chocolate companies perpetuating child labor and slavery in African cocoa farms
American and European chocolate companies are involved in perpetuating child labor and slavery in West African cocoa plantations.
Volatility in cocoa markets means farmers in Africa are set to lose almost 20% of their incomes, amid accusations that Western chocolate companies are “turning a blind eye” to a crisis in the sector.
In the Ivory Coast, farmers could be paid up to 21% less year-on-year for their 2021/22 cocoa harvest. This comes despite a rise in prices on New York’s future exchange. Cocoa futures have risen by around 10% between the end of October 2020 and the end of October this year.
Lower prices are expected to plunge farmers into poverty, increase the prevalence of modern slavery and add to the rates of illegal child labor.
Deforestation is also linked to higher poverty rates among the cocoa farming community, as people desperate for more income increase their farmland in a bid to sell more produce.
Assata Doumbia, a cocoa farmer and head of industry co-operative ECAM in the Ivory Coast, told CNBC it had been difficult to accept the drastically lower price.
“With this price of 825 francs and the costs of production, we’re going to find it difficult to feed our families, to look after ourselves and to invest in the farms,” Doumbia said via video call. “We accept the price because we have to.”
West African nations produce about 70% of the world's cocoa, much of which is exported to the United States. An estimated 2.1 million children work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Ghana.