Cocoa

Countries Where Cocoa is Reportedly Produced with Forced Labor and/or Child Labor

Cocoa Commodity Risk Map
  • Cameroon (CL, FL)

  • Côte d’Ivoire (CL, FL)

  • Ghana (CL)

  • Guinea (CL)

  • Nigeria (CL, FL)

  • Congo, Republic of the (FL)

  • Sierra Leone (CL)

  • Togo (FL)

Where is cocoa reportedly produced with trafficking and/or child labor?

According to the U.S. Department of State 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, cocoa is listed as being produced with forced labor or forced child labor in Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire (CDI) and Togo.[1]

According to the U.S. Department of Labor List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, cocoa is produced with child and forced labor in CDI and Nigeria and with child labor in Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.[2]

Nigeria, Togo and Sierra Leone are listed as Tier 2 countries by the U.S. Department of State 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report. Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, and Republic of the Congo are listed as Tier 2 Watch List countries. [3]

[1] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258876.pdf

[2] U.S. Department of Labor. 2016 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor of Forced Labor. https://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods/

[3] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258876.pdf

What does trafficking and/or child labor look like in the production of cocoa?

In CDI, trafficking has been documented among migrant workers – particularly teenage boys coming from neighboring countries of Burkina Faso and Mali. A report by Anti-Slavery International found that these boys had been promised work by recruiters, but upon their arrival at the isolated cocoa farms, were subjected to unsafe work and living conditions and not paid.[4]  There have been reports of similar recruitment systems in Nigeria but significantly less research has been conducted there.[5] Older teenagers who have migrated voluntarily also work in cocoa production.[6]  Children migrating voluntarily may be motivated by the desire to earn an independent income to support themselves of their families, to seek schooling, or to build social capital or life experience.[7]

The U.S. Department of State Reported that in the Republic of Congo, “some child trafficking victims are also subjected to forced labor… in agricultural sectors, including in cocoa fields in Sangha department.”[8]

Child labor occurs in cocoa production as well. According to a report from Tulane University, 1.8 million children in West Africa are involved in growing cocoa. [9]  Most children working in cocoa production work within family structures.[10] Some of this labor is “kinship” or foster labor, that is, children living and working with extended family members within well-established kinship networks.[11] Many cocoa growing communities are rural and isolated, lacking infrastructure and adequate educational opportunities, which can raise the risk for child labor.[12]

Children working in cocoa can be exposed to pesticides and are often injured by machetes used in harvesting.[13] They are also vulnerable to musculoskeletal disorders, eye injuries, skin rashes, and coughing. They often lack access to protective equipment.[14]

A 2015 report published by Tulane University compared the 2008-2009 cocoa harvest cycle to the 2013-2014 harvest cycle in terms of active child labor in both CDI and Ghana. The report found that child labor in Ghana decreased by 6 percent between the two harvest cycles, from 0.93 million children in 2008-2009 to 0.88 million children in 2013 – 2014.[15] The report found that in CDI, child labor increased by 46 percent between the two harvest cycles, rising from 0.79 million children in 2008 – 2009 to 1.15 million children in 2013-2014. One noted root cause of the increase was the overall increase in cocoa production.[16]

[4] Robson, Paul. Anti-Slavery International. Ending Child Trafficking in West Africa Lessons from the Ivorian cocoa sector. 2011. http://www.antislavery.org/includes/documents/cm_docs/2011/c/cocoa_report_for_website.pdf

[5] International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. Labor practices in the cocoa sector of southwest Nigeria with a focus on the role of children. 2002. http://www.iita.org/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=98898&folderId=104025&name=DLFE-1141.pdf

[6] Massart, Guy S. International Cocoa Initiative. A Study of Child Mobility and Migrant Flows to the Cocoa-Producing Communities in Ghana. 2012. As cited in: Children at the Heart. 2016. https://www.cocoalife.org/~/media/CocoaLife/en/download//article/FULL_REPORT_Ghana_Mondelez_Embode_ChildrenattheHeart.pdf

[7] Massart, Guy S. International Cocoa Initiative. A Study of Child Mobility and Migrant Flows to the Cocoa-Producing Communities in Ghana. 2012. As cited in: Children at the Heart. 2016. https://www.cocoalife.org/~/media/CocoaLife/en/download//article/FULL_REPORT_Ghana_Mondelez_Embode_ChildrenattheHeart.pdf

Hashim, Iman; Thorsen, Dorte. Child Migration in Africa. 2011. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:387010/FULLTEXT01.pdf

[8] U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. 2016. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258876.pdf

[9] Tulane University. 2013/14 Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Cocoa Growing Areas. July 15, 2015. http://www.childlaborcocoa.org/images/Payson_Reports/Tulane%20University%20-%20Survey%20Research%20on%20Child%20Labor%20in%20the%20Cocoa%20Sector%20-%2030%20July%202015.pdf

[10] Embode; Commissioned by Mondelez International. Children at the Heart. 2016. https://www.cocoalife.org/~/media/CocoaLife/en/download//article/FULL_REPORT_Ghana_Mondelez_Embode_ChildrenattheHeart.pdf

[11] Boas, Morten and Anne Huser. Child Labor and Cocoa Production in West Africa. Fafo. 2006. http://www.fafo.no/media/com_netsukii/522.pdf

[12] International Cocoa Initiative. Sustainable Development Goals: Child Labour in the Cocoa Sector. March 2017.  http://www.cocoainitiative.org/news-media-post/sustainable-development-goals-child-labour-in-the-cocoa-sector/

[13] Hawksley, Humphrey. “Ivory Coast Cocoa Farms Child Labor: Little Change.” BBC News. November 10, 2011.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15681986

[14] Mull, Diane L and Steven R Kirkhorn. Child Labor in Ghana Cocoa Production: Focus upon Agricultural Tasks, Ergonomic Exposures, and Associated Injuries and Illnesses. Public Health Reports. December 2005.

[15] Tulane University. 2013/14 Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Cocoa Growing Areas. July 15, 2015. http://www.childlaborcocoa.org/images/Payson_Reports/Tulane%20University%20-%20Survey%20Research%20on%20Child%20Labor%20in%20the%20Cocoa%20Sector%20-%2030%20July%202015.pdf

[16] Tulane University. 2013/14 Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Cocoa Growing Areas. July 15, 2015. http://www.childlaborcocoa.org/images/Payson_Reports/Tulane%20University%20-%20Survey%20Research%20on%20Child%20Labor%20in%20the%20Cocoa%20Sector%20-%2030%20July%202015.pdf

World Cocoa Foundation. Reducing Child Labor is a Shared Responsibility. July 30, 2015.  http://worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-WCF-Press-Release-Response-2015-Tulane-Report-July-30.pdf

Cocoa Production and Supply Chain

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, between five and six million cocoa farmers exist worldwide and between 40 and 50 million people depend on cocoa for their livelihood.[17] While most labor on small farms is likely provided by family members of the producer, hired workers have also been noted.[18]

Over 70 percent of cocoa is grown in the West African countries of CDI, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon.[19] CDI alone represents 40 percent of global cocoa production. The majority of West African cocoa comes from small family farms under five acres in size. Due to the small average size of producers, cooperatives and other producer organizations can play an important role in enabling market access. These cooperatives may participate in voluntary certification programs.[20]

Many cocoa farmers live on less than one dollar a day.[21] Reports have noted that low-incomes for producers impacts the well-being of workers on farms.[22] Input costs include tools, protective clothing/boots, hired labor/sharecropping (if applicable), local transportation, cooperative membership (if applicable), pesticides, seedlings.[23]

Farmers harvest cocoa pods, often using machetes. The pods are opened and the beans are removed. After the beans ferment for several days, and the pulp melts away, the beans are spread out to dry in the sun. After the beans are dried, they’re stored in sacks before being picked up by collectors or transporters. After processing, the beans are exported to the global market, where they are purchased by manufacturers.[24]

Most of the processing takes place in the United States or Europe, notably Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Though cocoa processing and trade is centralized, industry groups argue that tracing cocoa usage to the actual farms where cocoa is grown is not currently possible in many cases due to the high number of middlemen, which prevents industry groups from directly monitoring their suppliers.[25]

[17] World Cocoa Federation. Cocoa Market Update. March 2012. http://worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/Cocoa-Market-Update-as-of-3.20.2012.pdf

[18] Fair Labor Association. Sustainable Management of Nestlé’s Cocoa Supply Chain in the Ivory Coast—Focus on Labor Standards. June 2012. http://www.fairlabor.org/sites/default/files/documents/reports/cocoa-report-final_0.pdf

International Cocoa Initiative. Researching the Impact of Increased Cocoa Yields on the Labour Market and Child Labour Risk in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. 2016. http://www.cocoainitiative.org/knowledge-centre-post/labour-market-research-study-full-study/

Marjolien, Selten, et. al. Certification and wage labour in the cocoa sector in Ghana. 2015. http://www.cocoaconnect.org/publication/certification-and-wage-labour-cocoa-sector-ghana

UTZ. Impact of UTZ Certification on Cocoa Producers in Ghana. 2016. https://www.utz.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Impact-of-UTZ-certification-on-cocoa-producers-in-Ghana-2011-2014.pdf

[19] World Cocoa Federation.  About Cocoa.  http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/learn-about-cocoa/tree-to-table/how-chocolate-is-made.asp

World Cocoa Foundation. Our Approach.  http://worldcocoafoundation.org/our-work/our-approach/

[20] GEFAK mbH. Study on the state of farmer cooperatives in the cocoa sector of Côte d’Ivoire. 2015.  https://www.kakaoforum.de/fileadmin/Redaktion/Studien___Reports/GISCO_COOP_Report_GEFAK_final.pdf

F.E., Omoregbee; D.U., Okoedo-Okojie. Assessment of the Role of Cooperative Societies in Cocoa Production by Smallholders in Owan-West Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. 2008. http://www.agrosciencejournal.com/public/agro7-8.pdf.

Fairtrade International, Fairtrade Africa. Fair Trade Cocoa in West Africa. 2014. http://www.fairtrade.net/fileadmin/user_upload/content/2009/resources/Fairtrade-cocoa-WestAfrica-report_2014.pdf

[21] International Cocoa Initiative. Sustainable Development Goals: Child Labour in the Cocoa Sector. March 2017.  http://www.cocoainitiative.org/news-media-post/sustainable-development-goals-child-labour-in-the-cocoa-sector/

[22] IDH and Fair Price. The True Price of Cocoa from Ivory Coast. 2016. http://www.chocolatemakers.nl/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/TP-Cocoa.pdf

International Labor Rights Forum. Fairness Gap. 2014. http://www.laborrights.org/publications/fairness-gap

[23] Cocoa Barometer. http://cocoabarometer.org/Home.html

[24] International Cocoa Organization (ICCO). How Exactly is Cocoa Harvested? https://www.icco.org/faq/58-cocoa-harvesting/130-how-exactly-is-cocoa-harvested.html

[25] Hawksley, Humphrey. BBC News.“Ivory Coast Cocoa Farms Child Labor: Little Change.”. November 10, 2011.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15681986

How do Trafficking and/or Child Labor in Cocoa Production Affect Me?

Cacao pods

Cocoa is the key ingredient of chocolate but also an important element of many cosmetics and soaps, pharmaceutical products, and baked goods which feature cocoa butter.

Europe consumes nearly 50 percent of the world’s chocolate, and the United States consumes approximately 25 percent.[26]

[26] CNN Freedom Project. “Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” January 7, 2012. http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/17/who-consumes-the-most-chocolate

EXAMPLES

What Governments, Corporations, and Others are Doing

Due to high-profile advocacy from a number of organizations alleging the use of forced child labor in cocoa production, the confectionary industry and the Governments of Ghana, CDI, and the United States signed the Harkin-Engle Protocol committed to addressing child and forced labor in Ghana and CDI.[27] As part of this effort, the governments of Ghana and CDI successfully completed household surveys of child labor in the cocoa sector, the results of which were independently verified by third parties. Civil society, business, and government representatives oversaw this process through a multi-stakeholder body known as the International Cocoa Verification Board. An extension, known as the Joint Action Plan, was launched on September 13, 2010. The Action Plan commits a combined USD 17 million over ten years to build capacity in cocoa growing communities and to increase efforts to reduce the worst forms of child labor in cocoa production in Ghana and CDI by 70 percent by 2020.[28]

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor committed USD 12 million in funding to combat child labor in cocoa growing regions in West Africa.[29]

The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) is an industry-funded multi-stakeholder initiative that focuses on the elimination of child labor in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Under this goal, the ICI works to mobilize community child labor protection committees and provides awareness raising around child labor and child-protection issues, as well as working to improve access to education and other social services in cocoa growing communities.[30]  The ICI has reported that in the communities in which is works, school enrollment rates have increased by more than 20 percent. The ICI has developed and implemented – in partnership with companies – the Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System, which reportedly has high rates of child labor identification.[31] CLMRS was developed and piloted in one company’s supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire, before being adopted by nine companies in the 2015 CocoaAction Strategy. The CocoaAction strategy committed these companies to extend CLMRS so 300,000 farmers are covered by 2020. ICI and seven of its member companies expand CLMRS coverage to almost 100,000 farmers. [32]

The World Cocoa Foundation, funded by cocoa industry members, seeks to improve livelihoods in cocoa farming communities and families worldwide.[33] In May 2014, the WCF and cocoa companies established CocoaAction which works in consultation with the governments of Ghana and CDI to advance sustainability and improve livelihoods in a planned 1,200 cocoa growing communities.[34]

Product certification is a consumer-facing tool that provides economic, social and environmental standards for producers and producer groups. The major sustainability standards with a labor component in African cocoa production are Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ. In addition to the social and environmental standards, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ focus on increasing producer productivity and product quality.  Fair Trade focuses on increasing profit shares earned by producers and coops; Fair Trade buyers pay a higher price which farmers receive in a minimum price as well as a premium paid to cooperatives. Fair Trade chocolate production represents about 38 percent of certified cocoa globally. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana both produce Fair Trade Certified cocoa. Nearly 9 percent of global cocoa production is certified by Rainforest Alliance. [35]  About 13 percent of global cocoa production is certified by UTZ. [36]

[27] U.S. Department of Labor. A Story of Chocolate and Child Labor. https://blog.dol.gov/2015/07/30/a-story-of-chocolate-and-child-labor/

[28] U.S. Department of Labor. A Story of Chocolate and Child Labor. https://blog.dol.gov/2015/07/30/a-story-of-chocolate-and-child-labor/

[29] U.S. Department of Labor. A Story of Chocolate and Child Labor. https://blog.dol.gov/2015/07/30/a-story-of-chocolate-and-child-labor/

[30] http://www.cocoainitiative.org/

[31] International Cocoa Initiative. Sustainable Development Goals: Child Labour in the Cocoa Sector. March 2017.  http://www.cocoainitiative.org/news-media-post/sustainable-development-goals-child-labour-in-the-cocoa-sector/

[32] International Cocoa Initiative. Sustainable Development Goals: Child Labour in the Cocoa Sector. March 2017.  http://www.cocoainitiative.org/news-media-post/sustainable-development-goals-child-labour-in-the-cocoa-sector/

[33] World Cocoa Foundation. Our Approach.  http://worldcocoafoundation.org/our-work/our-approach/

[34] World Cocoa Foundation. Reducing Child Labor is a Shared Responsibility. July 30, 2015. http://worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-WCF-Press-Release-Response-2015-Tulane-Report-July-30.pdf

[35] Potts, Jason; et. al. International Institute for Sustainable Development; International Institute for Environment and Development; Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade; ENTWINED Research Consortium and the Sustainable Trade Initiative. State of Sustainability Initiatives. 2014. https://www.iisd.org/pdf/2014/ssi_2014.pdf

[36] Potts, Jason; et. al. International Institute for Sustainable Development; International Institute for Environment and Development; Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade; ENTWINED Research Consortium and the Sustainable Trade Initiative. State of Sustainability Initiatives. 2014. https://www.iisd.org/pdf/2014/ssi_2014.pdf

LEARN MORE

Watch a short video by the International Labor Organization (ILO) on child labor in Cameroon.

Read a manual by the ILO on best practices for reducing child labor in cocoa farms.