More than 90% of the world's cocoa is harvested by small-hold farmers. Stop the Traffic is calling on consumers to know more about what they are buying.
Nearly 70% of world's cocoa comes from Ivory Coast and Ghana where there are millions of child laborers. Have you ever wondered where the cocoa in your Easter eggs comes from?
Australians eat a huge amount of chocolate every Easter without knowing the cocoa in that chocolate may have come from farms in west Africa that rely on child labor, and possibly human trafficking. It's an insidious problem that a group called Stop the Traffic wants Australians to be mindful of this Easter.
"Easter eggs are about new life," says Fuzz Kitto, a co-director of Stop the Traffic Australian Coalition. "But our kids could be eating chocolate eggs that have been made by kids that don't have a life."
Stop the Traffic is a coalition of church groups and community organizations that campaigns to eradicate child slavery and labor and human trafficking from the global fashion, cotton, tea, fishing and chocolate industries.
But it has a simple request for chocolate buyers this weekend: check if the packets of your chocolates carry logos that show the cocoa in the chocolate has been sourced from a certified farm, or that the coca farmers have been trained in better farming techniques and management.
Stop the Traffic says the main reason young children - mostly boys - are trafficked and farmers use child labor in cocoa-growing regions is because the farmers do not earn enough to make a "living income", which is the amount needed for basic housing, food and essentials, and which allows families to send their children to school.
It says more than 90% of the world's cocoa production is harvested by small-hold farmers and their workers - not large companies - and the income they derive from the sale of cocoa beans is insufficient to lift them out of poverty.
Nearly 70% of the world's cocoa comes from two countries in west Africa- Ivory Coast and Ghana - where millions of children are estimated to be in child labor. Most farmers in the two countries live under the extreme poverty line, defined by the UN as US$1.90 a day.
Stop the Traffik says for a cocoa farmer to get close to a living income, 100g of milk chocolate would cost about 12 cents more, and an average Australian chocolate consumer would need to pay $60 more a year for their chocolate for the extra amount to filter through to farmers."We're saying to people, just think of it like a chocolate tax that will help farmers get a living income so they won't be forced to use child labor," Kitto said.
Stop the Traffic released a report this week, A Matter of Taste, that asked the world's largest chocolate manufacturers - Ferrero, the Hershey Company, Lindt & Sprüngli, Mars Incorporated, Mondelez, Nestle, and Tony's Chocolonely - to reveal the percentage of their cocoa bean supply that was sustainably sourced.
In a submission to last year's parliamentary inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia, it also warned that Australian consumers were "inevitably implicated" in slavery through the consumption of imported goods where global supply chains were opaque.
"The only way in which Australian consumers can develop an awareness of the potential connection between the products they consume and human trafficking and slavery is if corporations are required to be transparent with regard to the way in which their products are produced and made available for sale within Australia," its submission said.
The inquiry found the value of imported cocoa in Australia was $334.7m, and it had a "high risk" of forced labor. Kitto says Stop the Traffic tries to eradicate child labor by working directly with cocoa farmers, and the companies buying their cocoa, to ensure that farmers are paid a premium when they don't use child labor.
"We're not into name and shame, we're into name and fame," Kitto said. "The reality is there are bad things happening and there are good things happening, but you'll never change it by just focusing on the bad things.
"It's when companies and communities start to do good things and you highlight them and encourage them, that's when it brings about much more change."
Gareth Hutchens is Politics and economics correspondent -
The article appeared in The Guardian
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