Dario Soto Abril, CEO Fairtrade International, explains why fair trade must become the norm rather than the exception to tackle child labour in West African cocoa production.
Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire together produce about 60% of the world’s cocoa supply each year. However, they do so with reliance on child labour. This is the harsh reality of the cocoa industry – and a stark reminder of the reality Fairtrade faces in our efforts to change the way the world does business.
It is estimated that more than 1.48 million children are engaged in hazardous child labour in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Fairtrade estimates that this number is likely higher, as we consider child labour through the lens of minimum age, hazardous labour and unconditional child labour. Unfortunately, these numbers do not come as a surprise to Fairtrade. Since 2009, we have been working diligently to tackle this problem – and not only in the cocoa industry.
What we know, without a doubt, is that there’s no single reason for child labour use in this cocoa sector; instead, there are many complex and interdependent causes. Poverty, low wages, labour shortages, poor working conditions, weak governmental involvement, lack of impactful educational opportunities, unsafe schools, exploitation and discrimination, political unrest and conflict – and now the effects of COVID-19, as well – all contribute to the use of child labour in the West African production of cocoa.
Poverty and discrimination remain formidable forces in pushing children into the workforce and unsafe environments. When farmers are trapped in poverty, they can’t afford to invest in more efficient methods to improve their income and, as such, resort to the cheapest forms of child labour. Also, when children’s rights are not respected, dependence on their labour can increase.
We say the guaranteed Fairtrade Premium is important, so that producer organizations can choose to implement the support their communities need, including building schools, to make it easier and safer for children to receive a quality education.
In 2019, we raised both the Fairtrade Minimum Price and the Fairtrade Premium by 20% to move cocoa producers closer to a living income.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that voluntary solutions are not enough. It must become a collective effort of all actors. Producers and their communities are already living in poverty. It is simply not realistic – or fair – to expect producers to bear the costs of implementing child labour monitoring and remediation systems when they don’t make enough to cover their basic needs. So, who’s going to pay to end child labour? Shared accountability is the only way to end child labour in cocoa production. Voluntary certifications have a critical role to play in raising the bar on expectations; designing and implementing frameworks for commercial partners’ and producers’ accountability, complementing legal requirements; and in providing much-needed on the ground support.
Consumers must demand accountability from chocolate brands, retailers, and human and environmental rights due diligence regulation from their governments. They must buy products aligned with their values: providing producers with stable income that allows them the ability to plan for their futures and decide how best to invest in their communities and farms.
It must not take another 20 years to turn fair trade from the exception to the norm.
Are you passionate about trade justice, environmental protection and Guernsey’s contribution to these two global issues? Then come along to the Fairtrade Steering Group meeting on Thursday 1st October, 7.30pm at Capelles Community Centre. Amongst other things we’ll be planning activities for Fairtrade Fortnight in Feb/Mar 2021 – which will coincide with Guernsey’s 15th anniversary as a Fairtrade Island. We’d love to see some new faces! Feel free to message us if you’d like some more info.
Tackling climate change is at the heart of the fair trade movement, as it threatens the livelihoods of those we are working to protect.
Fairtrade farmers are among the people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis but are already considerably affected; studies show Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change. It takes 21 people from Cote d’Ivoire to have the same carbon footprint as one person in the UK. Farmers rely on the land they farm for their livelihoods and yet, due to low incomes, those in the Global South often have lower resilience to face the impacts of climate breakdown.
Environmental protection is deeply ingrained in Fairtrade. 2.38 million hectares of farmland are protected by Fairtrade climate change adaptation plans. We support farmers to combat climate change through technical advice, fairer wages, special partner supported programmes and our environmentally friendly Fairtrade Standards.
Find out more……..
What is the Fairtrade Minimum Price?
Sidie is a cocoa farmer in Sierra Leone and sells some of his cocoa on Fairtrade terms. In this episode we find out what this means and why transparent trade is important.
FAIRTRADE AND CLIMATE JUSTICE
Millions of people across the globe who provide us with our food and fashion are on the front line of the climate emergency. They’re trapped in an unfair trading system that will only drive us further into crisis.
But crucially, together, we can still win a better future.
Fairtrade farmers and workers are fighting back demanding trade that will create a sustainable future for people and planet, and using sustainable farming techniques in line with our Fairtrade Standards.
They are already taking steps to tackle climate change. Will you join them? Add you name to stand with farmers and show businesses and the government in this country we will not accept inaction.
Sign to join the Fairtrade fight against the climate crisis
AGM – Thursday 16th July at 6.30pm at Moores Hotel, followed by a Steering Group meeting at 7pm, followed by dinner for those who wish/are able to to stay.
All welcome. If you’d like to enjoy the meal please email: email@example.com by Tuesday 7th July at the latest and we can show you the menus.
If you have a concern for farmers and their communities in the developing world, a desire to see Guernsey grow its support and an enthusiasm to help, you and your friends are very welcome.