Avoiding Chocolate Produced with Child Slave Labor
Fair trade chocolate is an easy way for consumers to do their part. A good deal of the chocolate around the world comes from developing countries without any protections for workers. A big part of this comes out of African countries like Ghana, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. One way these countries get enough labor for the cocoa plantations, though, is through forced labor by children. Over 15,000 children in the northern part of the Ivory Coast work on the plantations after their parents or guardians sold them into slavery. Almost 300,000 children work on plantations in these African countries. While most are children of the cocoa workers, a number of them have no relatives in the area.
Cocoa workers in these countries, no matter their age, face hazardous working conditions. They wield machetes and use poisonous chemicals as pesticides without any protective equipment. Workers climb to the tops of the cocoa trees to chop down the pods. They work often 12 to 14 hours a day, every day of the week. Most of the children have no access to basic educational opportunities. Some parents in destitute countries like Togo or Mali will sell their children to traffickers. The children then go to work on the plantations for little or no money. Fair trade chocolate producers and traders are working to right these wrongs.
Buyers of non-fair trade chocolate have no real interest in stopping this cycle. They are getting chocolate at prices much less, than it takes to produce. This leaves very little money for anyone to live on. Many families have high amounts of debt due to not being able to pay their bills with insufficient wages. To keep costs down, families pull their own children out of schools so they can work. Major chocolate manufacturers around the world are making huge profits off the backs of uneducated children.
The way to get around that problem is with fair trade chocolate. This chocolate comes from certified Fair Trade producers and buyers who practice fair trade. They must meet stringent guidelines in order to earn the certification. And once they have it, they must meet ongoing monitoring in order to sustain that certification. If you want to help any cause, look for chocolate produced with fair trade practices. You can find manufacturers around the world who produce chocolate which meets their criteria. You will be putting your money to use in helping people around the world.