Is your chocolate bar worth a child’s life? Documentary lays bare child slavery in West Africa’s cocoa plantations – and what is being done to free them
- Poverty is fuelled by the world’s growing demand for chocolate
- Children under 11 are forced into dangerous cocoa harvesting
- New documentary exposes the practice and what is being done to tackle it
Britain’s love affair with chocolate is fuelling child slavery in West Africa, as laid bare by a shocking new documentary.
The chocolate industry is worth £66billion globally and the Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa.
But across the Ivory Coast, cocoa is grown on family plantations, each typically only a few hectares.
Scourge: Much is being done to tackle the issue of child slavery in West Africa, but the problem is linked to the insatiable global demand for chocolate
The Ivory Coast produces a third of the world’s cocoa
The small parcels of land are handed down through the generations, each son struggling to make ends meet, just like his father before him.
This crippling poverty in the country forces families to use young children to produce the cocoa – a dangerous occupation even for an adult.
Children use dangerous tools and machinery, haul beans across long distances, work long hours and face exposure to pesticides and other potentially hazardous agricultural chemicals with no protective clothing. Much of the danger arises from swinging heavy-bladed machetes.
Education: A wall painting encouraging parents to send their children to school instead of harvesting cocoa
Prospects: A school built by Nestle in Zibouyaokro
There have been reports of children with terrible leg wounds from harvesting. Many are imprisoned on farms and savagely beaten if they try to escape. Some are under 11 years old.
News broadcaster CNN, which investigated the issue of child labour involved in the chocolate industry in ‘Chocolate’s Child Slaves’, has produced a new documentary, ‘Cocoa-nomics’.
As the global demand for chocolate rises, so does the threat to the supply of cocoa. It’s a pivotal time in the development of the cocoa economy in West Africa, for the industry, and the next generation of cocoa farmers.
Host Richard Quest travels to the Ivory Coast to see the effects of the fight against child labour, which ultimately has its roots embedded in poverty.
Labour: Worker at a buying station run by food processing company Cargill
School kids in the village of Kouadio-Yaokro, about 130km from the capital Abidjan
While there he travels to a farming community and discovers that the farmers have never even tasted chocolate, despite harvesting cocoa for decades.
One of them gives an insight into poverty in the nation, saying: ‘Where would we find it?’. Quest gives a chunk of chocolate to the farmer, who exclaims: ‘It’s good. It’s good to eat!’
The correspondent also examines the collective efforts to reform the cocoa industry – the fundamental socio-economic solutions needed to secure a sustainable future for cocoa farming and the chocolate industry.
Brown gold: Beans must dry in the sun before they can be sold
His travels coincide with a visit to the country by Nestlé’s Executive Vice President, José Lopez, who admits that the major confectionery corporations were slow to address the issue of child poverty, but are now working with charities, NGOs and each other to tackle the problem.
Mike McCarthy, Senior Vice President, Programming at CNN International said: ‘Cocoa-nomics explores how progress has been made in the effort to combat child labour.’
Cocoa-nomics: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary’ can be seen on Thursday 27 February, 2100 GMT on CNN International.