Responsible and Sustainable Cocoa
The chocolate and cocoa industries have been working for many years with farmers to improve their standard of living through a sustainable cocoa economy. ECA regularly contributes to discussions related to good agricultural practices and cocoa quality, as well as labour-related matters in cocoa farming.
GAPs and quality
The results of the research programmes conducted by ECA and its partners are translated into recommendations for growers. These are also shared with a number of other stakeholders in the aim of fostering ever better agricultural practices.
Farmers who apply recommendations stand to lose less of their crops to disease, which can translate into improved yields and therefore higher income.
Ongoing projects that address cocoa farming in a holistic manner, such as those of the WCF (World Cocoa Foundation) tend to show that higher income may also foster changes, eg as relates to farmers’ ability to better respond to their children’s educational and health needs.
The chocolate and cocoa industries pride themselves in their consistent socially responsible attitude. They are working together with other stakeholders to promote responsible cocoa growing and towards eliminating abusive labour practices in the growing and processing of cocoa.
The issue is not an easy one. Cocoa is grown in tropical climates, and over 60% originates from West Africa , planted by over a million smallholders often in remote areas. The domestic chain from planter to export company is a complex one, involving e.g. in the Ivory Coast a series of intermediaries (cooperatives, pisteurs, traitants, etc.). In addition, abusive labour practices are more likely to develop in poverty-stricken rural communities.
At the end of 2000 and in the spring of 2001, reports appeared in the media regarding abusive labour practices in agriculture, notably in cocoa growing. As a result of this, industry entered into discussions with the US government to seek the best way to eliminate such practices.
The industry Protocol was signed on 19 September 2001. Updated in July 2005, it called for industry to implement by 1 July 2008 credible standards of public process certification regarding child labour in cocoa, in compliance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour and forced labour.
This process involved large scale surveys in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to assess the prevalence and scope of such practices. These surveys were then evaluated by independent verification teams. The certification and verification reports are available through the ICVB’s website.
A further industry commitment within the Protocol was the formation in 2002 of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), a Foundation under Swiss law. The ICI is a product of active co-operation between the global chocolate industry, concerned politicians, the labour movement, consumers groups and activists in child and forced labour. Its mission is: “to oversee and sustain efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and forced labour in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products”.
The ICI is guided by international conventions, in particular ILO Convention 182 on “The Worst Forms of Child Labour” and ILO Convention 29 on “Forced Labour.” The collaborative nature of the foundation is reflected in the composition of its board which is composed of an equal number of industry and non-industry representatives. The ECA Secretary General sits on the ICI board and Executive Committee on behalf of two ECA member companies.
ECA and its membership contribute on a regular basis to initiatives destined to foster positive change in cocoa growing communities.