An investigation carried out by the reporter Anthony Barnett for the program Dispatches from Channel 4 in the UK (a public TV channel) revealed the horrors of the child labor behind the production chain of one of the most beloved Easter sweets in Britain.
The journalist traveled to GhanaWest Africa, where children up to 10 years They do strenuous work on farms cocoa under scorching heat and on shifts of up to nine hours a day.
These farms would be within the production chain of cadburyone of Britain’s most beloved brands, selling some 200 million classic creamy eggs each Easter season, and that in all its units comes with the seal CocoaLifewhich guarantees consumers that ingredients are sourced in an ethical manner.
But according to Barnett’s research, children in Ghana they wield meter-long machetes to cut through tough undergrowth, without protective clothing, or break pods with long, sharp knives, and many suffer serious injuries from the dangerous work.
In addition, the journalist discovered that the farmers were paid less than £2 ($2.6) a day for the cocoa they sell to Mondelez, the US company that owns Cadbury.
“Farmers are paid so little that they cannot afford to hire adults to work on the farm, so they have to use their children”Barnett told The Sun.
“So they are taken out of school to work on the farm. But there were also cases in which they were not children of the family, but had been brought from elsewhere to work on the farm”he adds.
Mondelez, the parent company of Cadbury, says that “strongly refute” accusations that they profit from child labour.
Cocoa Life, whose objective was to raise the standard of living of cocoa farmers and their families and eradicate child labor, was created by cadbury in 2012.
“We believe that children’s work is education and play. No amount of child labor in the cocoa supply chain should be acceptable.” they say on their website.
But a decade later, an estimated 1.56 million children are involved in cocoa production in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, with 95% of them involved in hazardous child labour, according to the latest report from the National Opinion Research Center.
The report found that despite promises from chocolate companies, including Cadbury, the proportion of children between the ages of five and 17 involved in cocoa work has actually increased in Ghana, from 44% to 55%, since 2009.
Under Ghanaian law, it is illegal for children under the age of 13 to work and no one under the age of 18 should engage in hazardous work.
But at the first farm Barnett visited, he found brothers from 10 and eleven years beating cocoa pods from the trees with long sticks.
Later he watched the children make their way through the dense undergrowth with lethal machetes, while sweat poured from their bodies in the scorching sun.
One of the minors revealed that his father keeps him out of school to harvest cocoa and showed Barnett a scar on her leg from being cut with the machete.
He also had trouble lifting his huge baskets full of pods that children were expected to carry for miles across farmland, and their father admitted they often get neck pain from the heavy loads.
On another farm a 12-year-old boy had been sent to work across the country, living with the farmer’s family, because his father couldn’t pay to send him to school.
He worked many hours opening pods with a sharp steel knife, more than 30 centimeters long, and he was paid the equivalent of $46 over several monthswhich he sent directly to his parents.
A girl of about 14 years also revealed that her aunt had trafficked her from the north of the country five years ago and she told him that she would babysit younger children and learn to be a seamstress.
Instead, they forced her to work hard all day under the scorching sun, doing forced labor, and denied her the opportunity to go to school.
“My uncle says he has a hard time feeding his own children, so if I join them he won’t be able to buy school books.”said the young woman.
Barnett told The Sun that he was surprised to find such young children in obvious danger.
“I was expecting to see them pulling out pods or spraying pesticides, so what surprised me most was how involved they were in this really dangerous job. It was the use of the machete and these sharp knives that was really worrying.” said.
The journalist pointed out that the children were so small that the machete was more than half their height, so maneuvering was very difficult and exhausting, and led to injuries with the tool.
The fixed minimum price for cocoa is only 660 Ghanaian cedis (about $104) per bag and Mondelez pays Cocoa Life farmers an additional ‘premium’ of 10 cedis, which is about $1.31.
One bag contains enough cocoa to make 4000 bars of the famous Dairy Milk and the average farmer produces eight a year.
For every British pound ($1.31) spent on chocolate in the UK, 29 cents goes to the retailer, 38 cents to manufacturing and distribution, 12 cents to taxes, and 10 cents to the manufacturer’s profit. That leaves just 11 cents for farmers to cover cultivation costs and local taxes.
Mondelez chairman Dirk Van de Put declined to speak to Barnett for the show, but the Cadbury’s owner released a statement saying: “We are deeply concerned about the incidents documented in Dispatches.”
“We explicitly prohibit child labor in our operations and have made significant efforts through our Cocoa Life program to improve the protection of children in the communities where we source cocoa. a position against they affirmed.
“The well-being of the children and families featured is our primary concern and we are committed to investigating further.”the company reiterated.
The answer was not enough, say activists like Ayn Riggs, founder of Slave Free Chocolate, who described the evidence obtained by the Dispatches program as “appalling.”
“The part that really infuriates me is that these chocolate companies promised to clean this up over 20 years ago. They admitted that they knew they were profiting from child labour, and they have evaded their promises not only to these children, but to everyone in the world.”said the activist.
Cocoa Life, whose slogan is “Cacao Done Right”, It claims to have invested $393 million over the past ten years to “empower at least 200,000 cocoa farmers and reach a million community members.”
But Barnett says the investment had little impact on impoverished farmers. “On the website and in its promotional literature, Cadbury claims to be making a difference. But I can only judge by the people we talked to, not just the children, but all the cocoa farmers.” says the reporter.
“They criticized the amount of investment Cocoa Life was making and they criticized the money they were making for their cocoa beans. No one has anything good to say about Cocoa Life”reiterates, and calls for a boycott against the company.
Kinder Chocolates were withdrawn from sale in Europe after the detection of dozens of cases of salmonella
What are the healthy properties of chocolate?
US, UK and Australia to develop hypersonic weapons together