We are committed to ending child labor in our supply chain by 2025
Why protecting children is important
We want to support children in cocoa-growing communities to stay healthy, complete their education and fulfill their potential. Our commitment is to identify, prevent and end child labor in our supply chain by 2025. This begins with ensuring that children are protected from the worst forms of child labor and their consequences, as defined by the ILO1. The challenges we face to achieve this are complex: child labor is directly linked to rural poverty and, in poor farming communities, children’s contribution on farms is often seen as a necessity.
In order to address this complex issue, Cargill works with local staff and partners to develop and implement a holistic approach to preventing, identifying, and ending child labor in our cocoa supply chain. Our process is composed of three critical elements: prevention, supply chain monitoring, and community development.
In some places, children work alongside their parents on farms after school, carrying out age appropriate tasks during busy seasons. This is also recognized by the ILO. It is our duty to make sure that children who work on farms outside school hours are not financially exploited, physically endangered or discouraged from studying or playing. To do so, Cargill provides training on the topic of child labor. As a long-term member of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) we have worked in partnership to implement proven ways of helping farmers identify tasks that may harm children and reduce the risks they face on farms, such as using machetes and pesticides or carrying heavy loads. We encourage farmers to alert us if they believe any children are at risk on their farms. Since 2013, Cargill has trained more than 145,000 farmers to understand the worst forms of child labor.
Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation
Supply chain monitoring is the next step in addressing child labor.
Understanding and increasing awareness of different forms of child labor in the cocoa supply chain is an important first step towards eradicating it completely. However, given the number of smallholder farms involved in cocoa farming, their remote locations and the difficulties of categorizing child labor by its various definitions in the local context, securing reliable data on child labor across the sector remains a major challenge.
In 2016, we launched a new partnership with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), a leader in child protection in cocoa growing, to scale our relationship, which has been ongoing since 2002. With guidance from ICI, we established an evidence based monitoring system in our cocoa supply chain to identify and protect children, especially those involved in child labor. The Cargill Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), implemented in 2017 in Cote d’Ivoire, is based on best practices for identifying and protecting children in the cocoa supply chain.
We piloted CLMRS with eight cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire in 2017 and successfully reached more than 5,000 farmers in eight coops, as well as their family members including more than 8,000 children. In 2018, we have expanded our CLMRS to an additional nine coops and are reaching more than 8, 000 farmers as well as their family members. In the future, we expect to reach 25,000 farmers in 2019, and we have further plans to intensify our efforts to tackle child labor in our supply chain.
Remedial activities take place at both the individual and community levels to support any identified children. For example, providing a birth certificate to a child who does not have one ensures that they have a critical identification document and can therefore enroll in school, while providing school kits ensures that students have the materials they need to learn. To help support parents, training in economic development activities and small businesses are provided to ensure extra income for school fees and other necessities. Cargill is also working with ICI and other community partners to provide access to tools such as wheelbarrows, as well as teams of young adults who provide farming services so that children no longer need to take part in dangerous activities. Longer term remediation activities include providing access to schools for communities that lack this infrastructure. Read the case study to find out more, and see our infographic on how CLMRS works as part of our holistic approach to ending child labor
Educating children and empowering women for a better future
In addition to prevention and supply chain monitoring, Cargill is working with partners to provide critical activities that help communities become more resilient and self-directed. In collaboration with ICI, CARE and others, Cargill helps ensure that communities identify their needs through a participatory needs assessment process, create a community action plan, and then implements the activities which may include health, clean water and sanitation, education, and women’s empowerment.
Wherever possible, we want to see children enrolled in school and we are working to improve access to education in cocoa-growing communities.
Furthermore, Cargill addresses community development with an emphasis on women’s economic empowerment and poverty reduction. We know that one of the most effective ways to address child labor and to ensure more children attend schools is by empowering women.
Why is this? Because women are generally responsible for meeting children and family-related expenses, for example paying school fees and buying or growing food. When women earn more, they are likely to buy better, more nutritious food. If they learn how to create and cultivate vegetable gardens, they are better equipped to grow the right food crops. Children and other family members benefit as a result.
Ending child labor is a complex process which requires inputs from industry, communities, government, NGOs, and other stakeholders. Cargill is committed to playing a leadership role to ensure a safe and healthy future for children and their families. and poverty reduction are key to eliminating child labor and strengthening communities. The holistic approach of the Cargill Cocoa Promise and our actions to improve farmer and community livelihoods are key to reducing poverty and improving the lives of children.
1 The International Labour Organization (ILO). Worst forms of child labor. www.ilo.org