Sweets, Profit, and Child Labor
A Bloody Background
After having been discovered in the 1600's by Spanish conquerers, chocolate had become insanely popular all around Europe. Chocolate was brought to Africa during the colonization of it in the 1800's. Since then, people have gone to extremes, enslaving children just to profit from the sale of cocoa.
Causes of the Conflict
The continuation of child labor in the cocoa fields is due to poverty in Africa. If there wasn't any poverty, then children would not have to work, and could simply abolish child labor by not participating in it. Unfortunatley, most families depend on the miniscule amount of income given by these tedious and hard jobs. However, child labor in ILLEGAL in the Ivory Coast, but that doesn't stop the heads of the chocolate corporations from hiring them, and it certainly doesn't stop poor families from needing the extra money.
Location of the Labor
The majority of cocoa farming is in Côte d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast. Côte d’Ivoire lies between the equator and the tropic of cancer, providing perfect conditions for growing the famed fruit. Ghana, directly to the right of the Ivory Coast, is also guilty of using child labor in the production of cocoa, along with most of West Africa, though the Ivory Coast remains the #1 offender.
70% of cocoa is made in Africa. 40% of all cocoa beans grown are from the Ivory Coast alone.
Chocolate costs about 90 cents per kilogram.
Children from ages 5-15 make up 40-50% of the workforce.
Around 200,000 children work on cocoa farms.
Child labor is illegal in the Ivory Coast, but as in many African countries, the law means very little there. Many large chocolate producers promise that they are not using blood chocolate. Some buy the chocolate, but claim they will buy less and less of the chocolate over time, like Hershey's. Others tend to avoid the subject (Such as Nestle, which is almost infamous for infractions on human rights and safety). Many projects have been launched to stop child labor, but there is little they can do to stop the machine; they often lack funding, people, and sometimes can't even get into the country.
What else can be done?
The root of the conflict is ultimately poverty, so measures need to be taken in order to fight poverty in extremely poor African countries. It would also be great if countries placed a ban on buying chocolate that was acquired from child labor and slavery in order to bankrupt the corrupt companies. If that were to happen though, the citizens of Ivory Coast would be mostly jobless, leading back to helping fight poverty and creating jobs.
Plan to address the problem
Several companies have placed a 'Traffik Free Guarantee' on their chocolate wrappers, to let consumers know their chocolate was not produced with child labor. If more and more companies pledged to this, knowledge of blood chocolate could spread throughout the first world. Few people are aware of blood chocolate, and a small push for the rights of the children of the Ivory Coast may just be their salvation.