Stopping Child Labour:
Unfortunately, many farming practices including mass exports from underdeveloped
countries, result in child labor. The international market, low buying prices, along with
demand, and most importantly income disparity lead farm managers to employee children
as young as 12 years old. These children will make less than $1 per day. Most cocoa
farming families live below the World Bank's poverty line of $2 a day, according to the
charity International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), fueling child labour, while the farm managers
and farm owners rake in the profits of an industry that makes roughly $100 billion dollars
in sales each year.
Jeff Luckstead, an agricultural economist at the University of Arkansas, stated" It's a really difficult issue because these are very poor farmers ... They don't have many options
- they can't just go and hire peopleWhereas, Genevieve LeBaron of Britain's Sheffield University states
"If you look at the annual profits of the largest cocoa and chocolate confectionary
companies in the world, there's plenty of money in that supply chain that could be
redistributed downwards along the value chain".
In 2015, the UN targeted the end of child labour by 2025. Mars, Nestle and Hershey
promised to only buy ‘ethical’ cocoa by 2020. However, the companies missed deadlines
in 2005, 2008, and 2010, and they most likely will miss next years deadline with the
excuse being they cannot identify the cocoa back to the farms of origin. Mars, maker of
M&M’s and Milky Way, can trace only 24 percent of its cocoa back to farms; Hershey,
the maker of Kisses and Reese’s, less than half; Nestlé can trace 49 percent of its global
cocoa supply to farms.
Ghana has a regulating body controlled by the government, COCOBOD. COCOBOD
buys from the farmers, thus, are able to pinpoint farms and the laborers on these farms.
Some have said fixing the issue is to call on COCOBOD- raising their prices. This may
solve the issue in Ghana; however, Ghana is the only country that regulates its cocoa. The
other giant in the cocoa exporting business, Ivory Coast, does not have as extensive
regulations and subsidies. Thus, the country regularly has buses carrying children to the
Ivorian farms to be used for their labour.
In a recent Washington Post article, correspondents went to some cocoa farms in the
previous countries mentioned to talk with Cocoa farmers and some of the children
working the farms. “It’s them who do the work.” The farmer said he was paying the boy’s “gran patron,” the “big boss” who manages the boys, a little less than $9 per child for a week of work and who would, in turn, pay each of the boys about half of that. The farmer said he considers the boys’ treatment unfair but hired them because he needed the help. “The low price for cocoa makes life difficult for everyone”, he said.
“I admit that it is a kind of slavery,” the farmer said. “They are still kids and they have
the right to be educated today. But they bring them here to work, and it’s the boss who
takes the money.”
Who is at fault here? The companies reaping the benefits of the child labour? The
consumers for continuely buying a product that is known to be a cause of child labour, or
the farmers themselves? The fault can be blamed from the bottom of the chain to the top
of the chain. Without regulating farmers, constant checks on farms, proper labeling
(enforcing companies to stateno child labour was used in the making of this product),
checks on the companies citing the expulsion of child labour, and holding governments
accountable will lead, to assiting in ending end child labour.
Cultivate’s approach is to make the farmer more uniformed in their agricultural practice,
habits and education. According to Fairtrade, The typical Ivorian cocoa farm is small —
less than 10 acres and about 60 percent of the country’s rural population lacks access to
electricity, and, according to UNESCO, the literacy rate of the Ivory Coast reaches about
With such low wages, Ivorian parents often can’t afford the costs of sending their
children to school — and they use them on the farm instead. Educating rural farmers on
the importance of education, food security, cheaper organic methods of fertilizer,
insecticides, and pesticides, along with basic business practices will make the farmer
more well-rounded and ultimately lead to higher earnings.
The importance of food security will allow a family to be healthier thus, save money on
medicine for illnesses. Basic business practices for illiterate and literate farmers alike,
will allow farmers to record expenditures and income to be able to budget their money
more efficiently. Often times Cocoa farmers will get their yearly income in 6 weeks
andfrom not knowing best practices in the management of their money will run out
before the next harvest arrives.
Kofi Annan stated “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”
For families to stop sending their children to farms starts from the top of the chain as
well as starting from the bottom. It must be a collective effort from all parties involved to
make sure fair trade/wage practices are being implemented. Also, that families recieve
the necessary education expanding their knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle,
basic agricultural practices, and budgeting technqiues. This ultimately will lead to a
higher wages, more efficient use of money, healthier households, and remove the need to
send children to farms where their labour will be exploited.