Issues > Food & Drink > People > Child Labour & Chocolate
Over 75% percent of cocoa beans used to make chocolate come from West Africa, mainly Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Unfortunately, child labourers are used extensively in the cocoa industries of these countries. The U.S. Department of Labour estimates that 1.56 million children are working on cocoa farms, and that's just in Ghana and The Ivory Coast! The vast majority of these children have at some point undertaken hazardous work, including exposure to agrochemicals, lifting heavy loads, using sharp tools, or working at night. Unfortunately, the use of child labour is increasing as cocoa production in these countries grows.
But what can you do as a consumer to help out? While far from a perfect solution, Fairtrade certified growers are independently audited to ensure they do not use child labour. Further, Fairtrade ensures a minimum price for farmer's crops and distributes money to farmer organisations to improve their infrastructure. This means that farmers have more income to spend on adult workers instead of employing children. Look for the Fairtrade symbol when shopping for chocolate.
The issues with cocoa production also go beyond child exploitation. Adult farmers consistently earn below a living wage. Old-growth forests are often cut down to make way for cocoa plantations, and farmers will illegally grow on national parks to increase their yield in any way. Cocoa production is also known to involve slavery.
What you can do:
Purchase chocolate from countries of origin where these issues are less prevalent.
Educate yourself on the extent and impacts of child exploitation in Ghana and the Ivory Coast