Sucden reaffirms its commitment to fighting child labor in the cocoa industry
Sucden, along with many of its partners, is stepping up its efforts to tackle and eliminate child labor across the entire cocoa supply chain.
We believe we should support and collaborate with the farming families who provide us and ultimately our customers and partners, with cocoa, and maintain mutually beneficial partnerships.
However, in parts of West Africa, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, there is evidence that too many children work on cocoa farms, often in hazardous conditions. Although most of this work takes place within a family context, it remains a significant and complex issue for Sucden and the rest of the cocoa sector. All parties are looking for ways to confront this issue. Many children help their parents safely, but, even so, we believe they should not be asked to work when it is hazardous to their development. Nor should they be expected to work when it interferes with their attendance at school.
The child labor situation in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana was first brought to the public attention in September 2000. Since then, the Governments involved, along with the cocoa industry and many international and local civil society organizations have been working extremely hard to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, including hazardous labor. Based on numerous surveys, it is clear these efforts have not been as successful as we had hoped for.
As an active participant in the cocoa industry, we have closely reviewed the recently published child labor survey, carried out by the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center (NORC), with funding from the US Department of Labor. Like everyone else, we are concerned to see the high proportion of children working in cocoa production and engaged in both child labor and hazardous child labor.
We recognize, as do others in the sector, that there are many complex interrelated and entrenched development issues that drive child labor. They include inconsistent education opportunities and economic infrastructure, as well as persistent poverty, in the rural areas where cocoa is grown. It is increasingly clear that to find a solution to these unacceptable forms of child labor a holistic approach, supported by governments, industry, civil society, and donor organizations is required. With this in mind, we note that the NORC report includes evidence that multiple interventions which target the reduction of child labor are effective in creating a significant reduction in child labor and hazardous child labor.
As a supplier of cocoa beans and products to many of the major branded chocolate manufacturers, we recognize our responsibility to provide assurance - for customers and consumers alike – that we have credible systems in place in the supply chain to tackle the issue of child labor. We know that we have a role to play in helping to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Therefore, we continue to step up our efforts significantly, working with many of our partners as effectively as we can, to do so.
To date, we have implemented various actions to tackle the issue of child labor:
- We are a Contributing Partner to the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI)
- In recent years, we have trained - with the support and expertise of ICI - our field agents, staff, lead farmers and farmer organizations to identify and remediate child labor.
- We are building up our in-house skills and due diligence capabilities within any at-risk supply chains we manage
- We have been developing further capacity for monitoring and remediating child labor within our supply chains. For instance, we are helping to address the root causes of child labor by supporting women with financial management and helping them to develop income generating activities.
- We continue to develop social and environmental program implementation and capacity, alongside our industry partners
- Our membership of the European Cocoa Association (ECA) helps us to contribute to the many EU initiatives aimed at tackling unfair labor practices in the cocoa supply chain
- We work with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) to support and coordinate Industry and intergovernmental efforts to tackle hazardous labor in cocoa
- We are supporting the Jacobs Foundation “Child Learning and Education Facility” (CLEF) initiative, designed to provide access to quality primary education for five million children in Côte d’Ivoire.
Eliminating the worst forms of child labor is a priority for Sucden Cocoa.
Sucden aims to be increasingly effective in helping achieve the collective goal of a sustainable and fair future for the cocoa industry.