A study funded by the United States government shows an increase in both child labour and hazardous child labour in cocoa production in the cocoa growing areas of Ghana and Ivory Coast between 2008/2009 and 2018/2019, while cocoa production increased significantly over the same period.
Chocolate is a $100bn annual global industry, but critics argue that most cocoa farmers still live on less than $1 per day. The use of child labour has risen in cocoa farms in the two West African countries during the past decade, despite industry promises to reduce it, academics said on Monday, largely supporting earlier findings that were questioned by both states.
The report from Norc (National Opinion Research Centre) at the University of Chicago, US, was commissioned by the World Cocoa Foundation for an independent examination of key community interventions into improving conditions for those working within the sector.
From its base figure of 1.56 million, a total of 1.48 million had been exposed to at least one component of what is considered hazardous child labour in cocoa production.
The prevalence of children doing hazardous work, including using sharp tools, has also gone up in the world’s top two cocoa producers, the study noted. The most common hazardous activity was using sharp tools, followed by carrying heavy loads, using chemicals and night work.
The two West African countries which together produce about two-thirds of the world’s cocoa had both questioned the methodology used in an earlier version of the report prepared by researchers from the University of Chicago in April.
Ghana again questioned the data in the new report, released on Monday after the US Department of Labor appointed a group of independent experts to conduct a review.