Child labour in Cocoa

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Child labour in Cocoa: Why it’s so hard to combat and what we’re doing about it

Blog 12th Jun, 2018

60% of child labour is in the agricultural sector. That’s a staggering fact made only more concerning when you learn that in West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa is sourced, 2.1 million children work in cocoa fields[i].

This is an issue which agribusinesses like Olam – along with our peers, customers, NGOs, and international governments – should be thinking about 365 days a year. But today is the UN’s World Day Against Child Labour and I want to take the opportunity to share with you some of the realities on the ground from my experience as Olam’s Head of Cocoa Sustainability, and how we’re playing our part to tackle the interlocking challenges faced by cocoa growing communities across West Africa.

You might be questioning why, despite the efforts of an entire industry, there could still be so many instances of cocoa related child labour in 2018? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a simple answer because the hurdles to reach a child labour-free cocoa supply chain are far from easy. However, there is one issue at the heart of the problem: extreme poverty. The decision to send your child to work on a cocoa farm often comes from a place of necessity in the face of little or no income.

In the face of this kind of intractable situation, a joint effort across the supply chain is essential. In Olam Cocoa’s role as the world’s leading exporter of cocoa from Africa, we are focusing our efforts to eradicate child labour in our supply chain on three key areas.

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