Taking action to prevent child labor in the cocoa supply chain

September 28, 2017

Reducing child labor in West Africa is a critical priority for us, and an important issue for both consumers and customers. We are working with the industry to eradicate child labor in cocoa farming. In 2017, we launched the Cargill Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), working with eight cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire to reach 5,000 farmers.

We know that achieving reductions in child labor will take a sustained effort by many parties – including industry, governments and other stakeholders. Where we are alerted to a child at risk, we are committed to working with the local community, the farmer cooperative and regional government officials to take any necessary remedial actions.

The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has been our partner since 2002 in developing a training module covering children’s rights and child protection at our Farmer Field Schools. This has trained 90,000 farmers to understand the worst forms of child labor. We also use local Community Development Committees, set up with CARE, to highlight the importance of these issues.

Our work with the ICI helps us to implement proven ways of helping farmers identify tasks that may harm children and reduce the dangers for children on farms, such as using machetes, pesticides or carrying heavy loads. At the same time, we have trained children to make sure they understand the risks they face and what they can and cannot do to help on farms. Our feedback shows that 95% of the children trained now understand what is meant by child labor.

However, the root causes of child labor are complex and additional community development programs are needed to ensure progress is made.

Solutions may include:

  • creating a Protective Cocoa Community Framework, based on community selection and needs assessments
  • setting up Community Child Protection Committees and providing equipment and training
  • developing specific actions within Community Action Plans
  • training of school management committees to help increase attendance, quality of teaching, enrollment, etc.
  • investing in education infrastructure/equipment such as improved classrooms, latrines, desks, etc.
  • child protection awareness raising, community service groups, providing birth certificates, etc.
  • gender training to strengthen women’s participation in community structures
  • supporting women’s income generating activities through economic empowerment activities

Looking ahead

We will be working together with the ICI to develop a simplified monitoring system for a number of cooperatives in line with certification requirements.

“With the farms and training schools we’ve had for six years, what we’ve learned is not to make the children work. In the training that followed we’ve learned that a child can accompany you to the field to see what you’re doing, but should not carry heavy loads or grab machetes to clean, this is very dangerous!” 
A farmer field school participant

Find out more about the Cargill Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS)

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