Slavery in the chocolate industry

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The chocolate enterprise is one of the most important agro processing industry in the world. Chocolate has endeared many in the world to its variety of style and presentation. Whether offered as a beverage a bar or in ice cream, the mention of chocolate elicits a variety of proper feelings. Chocolate has been advertised as a symbol of love and romance. Unknown to many the very product that has been portrayed as the reincarnation of love and romance is produced under inhumane situations represent love. Before a bar of chocolate lands on the shelf of a supermarket or a candy shop, it passes thru many processes. The buyer who is at the end of the chain cannot fully comprehend all the processes leading to the production of chocolate.

There has been suspicion of modern day slavery in the production of chocolate. This suspicion first arose from a 2000 report that cited the use of forced child labor on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. The accusations shocked the whole world that in such a modern day and age there would be issues of slavery. The report suggested that young were being forced to work in cocoa farms after being sold as slaves. Ivory Coast was not just another country growing cocoa, but the leading producer cocoa in the world this, therefore, send shockwaves in the whole world.

All chocolate lovers were fanning this vice by their continued enjoyment of the delicacy. It was clear that the vice every stakeholder in the cocoa industry contributed to this vice ranging from the buyer in America, the manufacturing company in Europe, and the cocoa farmer in the Ivory Coast. The issue is further made complex by the understanding that cocoa production is the major source of foreign revenue to Ivory Coast. The issue, therefore, is a weighty and serious r s issue that cannot just be ignored. The report cited the smuggling of young boys and girls from Mali to Ivory Coast to work on the cocoa farms day and night while persevering the inhumane conditions in which they live on. The horrifying factor is that the children were captured by being allured by sweets. When the unknowing child falls as into the trap, they are taken across the border where they are sold for cheap labor.

There exist a huge contrast between the working conditions that the young boys and girls endure while working in the farms day and night against the joy and happens selected and associated with chocolate. It’s a saddening factor that in modern day and age we would be talking about slavery. There exist over 600,000 cocoa farms in Ivory Coast where workers are mainly children. A large number of farms create a huge demand for labor that cannot be fully supported the local labor force. It is saddening that most cocoa manufacturers have never visited the cocoa farms due to their remoteness. Famers are seeking to make maximum profits from cheap labor acquire young children to work on their farm. The children are poorly fed and overworked. They live in inhumane conditions that are deplorable. At night the framers lock them in houses to prevent their escape.

The slavery in the cocoa industry has been attributed to several factors. The international price of cocoa in the commodity markets is highly unstable. The instability of its price further complicates the matter in times of high production. Mali the Saharan country north of Ivory Coast is one of the poorest countries in the world providing available labor for exploitation. The Ivorian government is heavily dependent on the export of cocoa as a source of revenue. Cocoa is attributed of up to a third of the exports revenue generated by the country. This means that the government is slow in developing policies that may seem as if to reduce the productivity of the cocoa industry.

Culture has affected the  development of this form of slavery. It is common for the children of a farmer to help in the farm together with hired labor force. The farmer, therefore, feel morally justified to use child labor which reduces the cost of hiring. The government also do not follow up closely on these firm to identify such issues. This has greatly resulted in the rise of the child labor. The polygamy structure of the local family also further complicates the matter as one is unable to differentiate whether the farmer is working with his children of forced laborers. The remoteness of the some of the areas in northern Ivory Coast have less development, and therefore education has not been prioritized. This means that parents do not find the importance of sending their children to school. Poverty has also had a huge impact at the moment of people across borders in search of work. These are the ideal individuals who human traffickers are ready to pounce on (Doherty and Tranchell). When the issue was discovered the Ivorian government went on the offensive to defend itself by citing the low global prices as the main cause of the problem. This is absconding its duties and impunity of the highest order.

There are different groups that are calling for a change in this issue. Different human rights groups are calling for the labeling of Ivorian cocoa as made by slave tag which discourages consumers from consuming cocoa from the Ivory Coast.  This solution presents a huge challenge since Ivory Coast produces over 70% of the cocoa in the world. Undertaking such as stand will only result in the global price spike as there will be a reduction in the supply of cocoa (Chanthavong). The Ivory Coast is hiding this huge market share in its endeavors to show and enforce little change in the farms so as to preserve the revenue generated from the export of cocoa.

The chocolate companies have a responsibility to the world to vet and monitor the production of cocoa in the farms. Some of the companies deny being aware of the predicaments in the farms. They do these to avoid been as if they are endorsing the use of child labor in cocoa farms. However, even without their formal consent purchasing of raw cocoa leads to indirect support of the vice. Manufacturing and processing factories have a huge role to play in the elimination of this vice. They can limit their purchases from Ivory Coast unless human rights are observed in the farms. Purchasing a product that has been produced through slavery is the same as endorsing slavery (Alberts, Heike and Cidell)   These companies ought to form a coalition based on the farms that will be entitled to buy and monitor these farms closely. The coalition should be firm in when purchasing the raw cocoa. Every farmer should be engaged in signing a commitment to use the recognized labor forms to reduce the use of child labor.

Random audit on the farms is necessary to ensure farmers are committed to eliminating slavery. The international community should introduce sanctions on the Ivorian government to ensure its commitment to prevent slavery. The government should be tasked to ensure tight border security that reduces the entrance of unidentified individuals. This will reduce   the human traffickers who crisscross the border points at their own will. Furthermore, the government should be committed to alleviating the economic levels of areas where the farms are located. It is necessary for the government to promote education in these areas.

Following these allegations, the industry was caught off-guard to its recklessness and carelessness in ensuring that its products meet the requirements of fair-trade. In the United States, the government threatened to introduce a ban on all products produce through child labor. The chocolate brands should also be committed to the community development. This can be achieved through the development of community-based programs that are aimed at further improving the life of the locals (McCabe). These corporate social responsibilities will improve the commitment of the farmers in respecting labor roles. The industry has since responded by developing by an accrediting process known as the Cocoa Industry Protocol. It provided the establishment of a framework of encouraging farmers to depart from illegal farming activities.

Works Cited

Gold, Stefan, Alexander Trautrims, and Zoe Trodd. "Modern slavery challenges to supply chain management." Supply Chain Management: An International Journal 20.5 (2015): 485-494.

McCabe, Maryann. "Fine chocolate, resistance, and political morality in the marketplace." Journal of Business Anthropology 4.1 (2015): 54-81.

Alberts, Heike C., and Julie Cidell. "Chocolate consumption, manufacturing, and quality in Europe and North America." Econ Chocolate 119 (2015).

Chanthavong, Samlanchith. "Chocolate and Slavery: Child Labor in Côte d’Ivoire." TED Case Studies 664 (2002).

Doherty, Bob, and Sophi Tranchell. "New thinking in international trade? A case study of The Day Chocolate Company." Sustainable Development 13.3 (2005): 166-176.

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