No sweet Easter for Ivorian cocoa farmers

No sweet Easter for Ivorian cocoa farmers

April 20, 2011 – As Easter approaches, there is hope of an end to the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, as President Alassane Outtara assumes office following a bitter conflict. While a humanitarian emergency in the country remains, it is expected that the export of cocoa – the country’s main crop – will be resumed shortly. VOICE, the European cocoa network of NGOs and unions calls upon the cocoa industry to speed and scale up their efforts for a sustainable cocoa sector, free of the worst forms of child labour. The VOICE Cooperation Statement can be found here.

 

The conflict in the Cote d’Ivoire, which has been going on for a decade, is caused in its deepest roots by poverty in the region. Poverty has driven many labourers from neighbouring countries to work in the cocoa-sector, including children. Extremely low income in the cocoa production – the country’s main crop, lack of education, and a long-term lack of investment in and training of the farmer population, have been a root cause of a situation of extreme poverty and discontent in the country. It has resulted in the proliferation of the worst forms of child labour, young people abandoning the family farms because of a lack of future prospects, clashes between migrants and local population and a general degradation in the environment. This is especially true amongst the 800,000 cocoa farmers and their families and the workers, who produce the country’s main export crop.
More action needed according to research

The cocoa companies partly recognise these severe problems. In the last ten years a number of initiatives have been started to prevent further deterioration of the cocoa supply chain affecting all actors throughout the chain. However, poverty in rural communities in Cote d’Ivoire has increased in the meantime.

With the Easter Holidays on the horizon and the related spike of chocolate consumption in Europe and the United States, Tulane University has released their latest report on ‘Worst Forms Of Child Labour’ in the cocoa production in West Africa show that there still are major problems in this area. Current efforts by the chocolate industry to eradicate the worst forms of child labour and extreme poverty are nowhere near meeting the promises made in the past.

Need for supply chain transparency

The time for change is now!, With the export of cocoa expected to resume shortly under the new president, cocoa industry must not resume ‘business as usual’. Cocoa buyers and manufacturers, such as Nestlé, Mars, Kraft, Ferrero, Hershey’s, Barry Callebaut, ADM and Cargill have to embrace this opportunity to start creating a transparent supply chain that provides a decent livelihood for all persons involved, with the aim to eradicate the worst forms of child labour and extreme poverty amongst cocoa producers throughout the country. Strengthening of organization of cocoa farmers and creating a creating a clear space for them in the cocoa value chain is crucial.

Therefore VOICE – a network of European NGOs and Unions, advocating for change throughout the cocoa sector – calls the industry to finally recognize their social and political responsibility and to take sufficient action in Cote d’Ivoire.
For more information please contact:

Netherlands:

STOP THE TRAFFIK, Antonie Fountain, antonie@stopthetraffik.nl,
+316-24276517

Tropical Commodity Coalition, Gijs Verbraak, g.verbraak@teacoffeecocoa.org,
+316-41501673

Oxfam Novib Frank Mechielsen; frank.mechielsen@oxfamnovib.nl,
+316-23387158

FNV Bondgenoten

Fairfood International

Germany

Südwind Institute

Fairfood International

Belgium

Oasis, name

Oxfam Wereldwinkels

Switzerland

Erklarung von Berne