Chocolate

Indebted Ivory Coast Farmers by Ange Aboa of Rueters Africa

Indebted Ivory Coast cocoa farmers unable to prepare for next season

 

By Ange Aboa-Reuters Africa

 

SOUBRE, Ivory Coast Feb 13 (Reuters) - A wave of defaults by cocoa exporters in top producer Ivory Coast has left farmers with unsold beans, indebted and unable to purchase fertiliser and pesticides to prepare their plantations for next season's harvest.

Cocoa has piled up at the ports for weeks and has been left to rot on trees as exporters, having wrongly speculated that world cocoa prices would extend years-long gains, declined to purchase beans to fill unprofitable contracts.

The stocking of beans, often in poor conditions, is already likely to have a negative impact on quality for the current harvest. But the financial pressure on farmers and cooperatives is set to have a knock-on effect for the 2017/18 season which will open in October.

"Right now I'm not interested in buying fertiliser or other products. I don't even have 1,000 francs in my pocket in order to eat, so how could I think of that?" said Ali Diabate, 58, who farms six hectares near the town of Soubre in the southwest.

Of 23 farmers interviewed last week across Ivory Coast's western cocoa heartland, none said they planned to invest in fertiliser or pesticides.

The Ivorian government introduced a forward sales system in 2012 allowing it to set a minimum price for farmers with the primary aim of encouraging growers to reinvest in their plantations.

Farmer incomes had steadily risen in line with world prices. However, as the system has broken down this season causing a glut of cocoa and fewer buyers, many farmers have failed to sell their crops while others have been forced to accept less than the 1,100 CFA francs ($1.79) per kg dictated by the government.

Many farmers are now saddled with debt, and farmer cooperatives, which typically distribute fertiliser and other products to their members, are struggling as well.

All 18 co-op directors interviewed by Reuters said they would be unable to help their members prepare their plantations for next season.

"We don't have any money. We haven't even paid for last year's fertiliser because of this situation and our suppliers won't take credit this year," Germain Kabore, who manages a co-op near the town of Daloa, told Reuters.

Across western Ivory Coast, shops selling fertiliser and pesticides have largely closed due to a lack of customers.

"All the stock I've had from January is still there. I haven't sold a single box or bag of fertiliser. It's all still there. No one is coming to buy," said Mamadou Keita, who runs a shop in the town of Soubre.

($1 = 615.9500 CFA francs) (Writing by Joe Bavier; editing by Jason Neely)

© Thomson Reuters 2017 All rights reserved

Letter to Oprah Winfrey

Hi Oprah,

My name is Ayn Riggs and I am the founder and director of Slave Free Chocolate.  We are a small group of people working as activists to eradicate the use of Worst Forms of Child Labor and Child Slavery in the cocoa industry.

I heard in the news that your 2015 list of the your favorite things is out and one item on the list is the Signature Turtle Basket from Phillips Chocolate in Boston.  As I am sure, on the surface, this is a lovely and tasteful product but it seem strange that on organization of your size that has done so many positive things, would not be aware that the chocolate in this gift basket is tied to the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Child Trafficking and Child Slavery.

It is hard to imagine that you would condone this kind of thing.  So on the outset that you didn't know, I invite you to read through the Slave Free Chocolate website.  

Please feel free to contact us to further discuss how you can help change this terrible situation.

Sincerely,

Ayn Riggs, Director, Slave Free Chocolate, 760-715-4618

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

   Two billion dollars will be spent on candy for Halloween.   Awareness of this situation has come a long long way but the numbers of children working under the "worst forms of child labor" and children trafficked to work as slaves on the cocoa farms has risen.  These kids need the help of the western consumers now more than ever.  Vote with your voice. Vote with your dollar.  Demand that Hershey's, Nestlé, Cargill, ADM and the rest make good on their promises of 2001 and remedy this situation.  The money is there, the law suits are going, Ghana and Ivory Coast are more stable. Now is the time.  Let's win this war against modern day slavery.

 

Two billion dollars will be spent on candy for Halloween.   Awareness of this situation has come a long long way but the numbers of children working under the "worst forms of child labor" and children trafficked to work as slaves on the cocoa farms has risen.  These kids need the help of the western consumers now more than ever.  Vote with your voice. Vote with your dollar.  Demand that Hershey's, Nestlé, Cargill, ADM and the rest make good on their promises of 2001 and remedy this situation.  The money is there, the law suits are going, Ghana and Ivory Coast are more stable. Now is the time.  Let's win this war against modern day slavery.

Class Action Law Suit Directed at Chocolate Companies

We will be reporting more on this in the future.  This is not the same law suit as Doe. VS. Nestlé, Cargill and ADM.  

This was reported in the Court House News Service by NICHOLAS IOVINO 

Chocolate Giants Face Slave Labor Lawsuits

By NICHOLAS IOVINO 

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Three of the nation's largest chocolate companies - Mars, Nestle and Hershey - get cocoa from suppliers that use child slave labor, customers claimed Monday in three federal class actions.
     All three lawsuits, filed by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, claim the candy giants "turn a blind eye" to human rights abuses by cocoa suppliers in West Africa while falsely portraying themselves as socially and ethically responsible.
     "America's largest and most profitable food conglomerates should not tolerate child labor, much less child slave labor, anywhere in their supply chains," the complaints state.
     They accuse the companies of false advertising and violations of California business and consumer laws. All the plaintiffs claim they would not have bought the defendants' chocolate had they known it was produced with child slave labor.
     All cite the defendants' corporate responsibility statements, including Hershey's declaration that it has "zero tolerance for the worst forms of child labor in its supply chain."
     Lead plaintiff Elaine McCoy claims Nestle has publicly embraced protection of human rights as one of its core business principles, but fails to live up to it or to disclose the truth to customers.

For the rest of the article CLICK HERE

Nestlé tackles PR troubles and publicly promises change.

Nestlé announced that their KitKat bars in Japan are going to only have ethically sourced cocoa.  This comes right off of the report that the the amount of children working in the cocoa fields of West Africa has risen from 1.8 million to 2.3 since it was last reported.

 

Child labour on Nestlé farms: chocolate giant's problems continue

Auditors completing their annual report continue to find evidence of child labour on Ivory Coast farms supplying Nestlé

Children younger than 15 continue to work at cocoa farms connected to Nestlé, more than a decade after the food company promised to end the use of child labour in its supply chain.

A new report by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), commissioned by Nestlé, saw researchers visit 260 farms used by the company in Ivory Coast from September to December 2014. The researchers found 56 workers under the age of 18, of which 27 were under 15.

               The rest of the article on The Guardian

Children working in cocoa industry increases 21%

According to Tulane University's Payson center, 

 "A report just released by the University of Tulane, commissioned by the US Department of Labour, estimates that there are more than 2.1 million child labourers in cocoa-growing across Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. This represents a 21% increase in the absolute number of child labourers in cocoa, and a 15.5% increase in the prevalence of cocoa-related child labour in cocoa-growing areas, between the selected baseline year of 2008/9 and 2013/4. "

Not good. The situation has gotten WORSE, not better since the the onset of the Harkin Engel Protocol.

Bloomberg picks up story about Hershey Investors Suing over Child Labor

Last fall two law suits came out with decisions that went in favor of the cocoa kids and not in favor of the chocolate companies.  We are happy to see that Bloomberg picked up the following story!  --SFC

Hershey Investors Suing Over Child Labor Can Pursue Files by Jeff Feeley  Bloomberg News

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Hershey Co., the largest chocolate maker in the U.S., was ordered to face a lawsuit by investors seeking to force it to turn over records about cocoa from African farms that may use illegal child labor. 

A Louisiana pension fund raised legitimate questions about Hershey executives’ knowledge of how much of the company’s cocoa, grown in West Africa, may have been produced by child slaves, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Travis Laster said yesterday. He overruled a master’s recommendation that the shareholders’ request to see cocoa-supply chain records be denied. 

West Africa, including top growers Ghana and Ivory Coast, accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s cocoa-bean production. Pressure to manufacture chocolate without harming children may grow as global sales of sweets head toward a record in 2014 and candy makers process more beans, according to data by Euromonitor International Ltd.  

The suit’s allegations create “a reasonable inference about the possibility” some cocoa Hershey officials bought from Ghana and Ivory Coast suppliers may be tainted by the use of illegal child labor, Laster said at a hearing in Wilmington, Delaware. Those questions may be “sufficient to warrant further investigation,” he said. 

See rest of the article at Bloomberg News