Cocoa Barometer report raises concerns over child labour and farming sustainability

An updated Cocoa Barometer report for 2018 has expressed concerns over progress on sustainability measures and levels of support for key farming communities in West Africa.

The independent study, written by Antonie Fountain and Friedel Huetz-Adams, aims to engage with key government stakeholders and businesses in the cocoa industry.

They chose to focus on the Ivory Coast and Ghana, as the region supplies a significant portion of cocoa for the sector, accounting for around 60% of production, according to latest figures.

Antonie Fountain, director of the Voice Network addressing sustainability issues, appeared at this year’s World Cocoa Conference last month, and highlighted major concerns relating to child labour and sustainability, stating that ‘a complete change’ was required from industry in its approach to tackling such major issues.

The Cocoa Barometer report read: “Child labour remains at very high levels in the cocoa sector, with an estimated 2.1 million children working in cocoa fields in the Ivory Coastand Ghana alone. Child labour is due to a combination of root causes, including structural poverty, increased cocoa production, and a lack of schools and other infrastructure.

“Not a single company or government is anywhere near reaching the sector-wide objective of the elimination of child labour, and not even near their commitments of a 70% reduction of child labour by 2020.”

Significantly, the report added that sector-wide efforts to improve the lives of farmers, communities and the environment are having little impact; the scope of proposed solutions is not even near addressing the scope of the problem.

Within its recommendations, the report called for a standardised approach from government and companies working on sustainability programmes. It stated that seeking to help provide a living income for cocoa farmers should be placed high on agendas.

The report added: “Measures should include a minimum farm gate price based on living income calculations. This could be coupled with a flexible premium. In parallel, farmers should not be dependent on their bargaining power for the height of their premium. Further downstream, it

would be interesting to explore whether standards could require human rights due diligence (HRDD) as part of their trader code of conduct.

– For a full review of the World Cocoa Conference, see the next edition of Confectionery Production. To read the report in full, visit

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