Cote D'Ivoire

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

C.R.E.E.R. Africa is looking for an intern.

Duration: Four months minimum.
Location: Abengourou, Moyen-Comoe, Cote d'Ivoire
Your role will be different, this is a chance to sow the seeds for the start of this centre. You can really make an impact. Depending on your skill set and experience, volunteers at C.R.E.E.R can take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. You will have an Outreach Worker living on site with you.
We're looking for our 2nd Coordinator with ideas, drive & initiative for our NGO; after four years of preparation, C.R.E.E.R is finally starting! Our current Coordinator is doing a fantastic job but will sadly be leaving us!
You might be wanting a change in life or a post-graduate student looking to get some experience; it could give someone the chance to write a thesis at the same time.
We are working to prevent young girls and boys from being trafficked into exploitative working conditions. We're offering a shelter to rehabilitate those children who have escaped their situation & living on the streets.
We will be providing education, vocational training, shelter, protection, community outreach, and youth leadership training to at-risk individuals and communities.
We are always open to new ideas and projects that utilize volunteers' unique strengths and creativity! This position is ideal for someone with long-term goals or interests related to alternative education, nonprofit administration, communications and media, child protection, or human trafficking prevention.
Your role which will take about 2-3h per day may include:
• Coordinating finances & administration on site
• Facilitating extracurricular activities with the children
• Producing and coordinating social media and communications,blog and newsletter
• Photography and/or videography for social media
• Writing grant reports and proposals
• Actively fundraising and marketing
• Meeting dignitaries & receiving visitors, possibly giving presentations on the organisation
• Attending events and meetings
• Helping in other areas based on your skill set, such as DIY
• Directly reporting to the Founder & Ivoirian Board; on site & off site
 
Preferred Experience:
• Background, coursework, or demonstrated interest in issues of child protection, statelessness, gender inequality, nonprofit administration, and/or international development
• Outstanding communication and organizational skills
• Ability to work independently and proactively identify solutions to problems
• Ability to work in a cross-cultural environment and navigate language and cultural barriers
• Flexibility, patience, and adaptability
• Ability to manage a wide array of tasks and priorities
• Excellent spoken and written English or French but with a reasonable spoken profiency in both
• Sense of humor and a positive attitude
 
Preferred qualifications:
• Teaching/Social work experience and/or experience working with children and young people
• Experience in a developing country
• Experience volunteering and/or working for a nonprofit or NGO
• Experience in an office environment and/or in administration
• Bilingual English/French language skills a major plus
 
If you've read this far & are still interested in applying, please e-mail us a cover letter explaining what you are able to offer us along with your CV to c.r.e.e.r.rci@gmail.com
Compensation details
C.R.E.E.R does not provide any salary or living stipend to volunteers, nor do we charge any fees to volunteer with us.
Volunteers must be able to fund their flight, visa, transportation & living costs but you will have a room to live in (although fairly basic at this early stage)
A motorbike is provided to get around town (shared with Outreach Worker).
Volunteers should be able to finance their stay with private fundraising and grants.
[8/30/15, 8:46:31 AM] Anglais Aerien Afrique: Volunteer Coordinator
Chance to sow the seeds at a new rehabilitation centre for street & trafficked children.
 Côte d'Ivoire

Contact Chole Grant for more information.  You can find contact information at C.R.E.E.R. Africa.org

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

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

Stateless and crying for help from the beloved country by: UNHCR

DUÉKOUÉ, Côte d'Ivoire, November 27 (UNHCR)  When asked about his past, Ousmane* hesitates, clearly reluctant to talk about it. He has suffered a great deal in his life, and it pains him to recount bad memories.

Once he realizes that his UNHCR visitors are friends, he begins to open up and tell his harrowing tale of life without a nationality. His recollections of childhood are hazy he knows only that he was born in a small village in south-east Côte d'Ivoire, across the border from Ghana, that his mother was a citizen of Burkina Faso, or Burkinabé, and that his father disappeared when he was young.

But when asked what nationality he has, Ousmane cannot answer. Like many other children born in rural areas of Côte d'Ivoire, the 33-year-old was not registered at birth. He was born out of wedlock, but his mother died shortly after his birth and Ousmane's father was never identified. He was raised in the Burkinabé community.

To make matters worse, he cannot produce any documents that confirm his parents' identity or prove his own nationality. Neither the Ivorian nor the Burkina Faso authorities recognize him as a national of their country. Like more than 10 million other people in the world, he is stateless.

But rather than accepting his legal limbo, Ousmane is trying to do something about it. And he has the support of UNHCR, which is lobbying the authorities to resolve his status, either through the recognition of Burkinabé citizenship or as a stateless person in Côte d'Ivoire entitled to rights, including the right to an ID.

UNHCR earlier this month launched a campaign to end statelessness by 2024, urging governments to change their laws and recognize stateless people. Without legal recognition, many stateless people lack access to basic rights, including travel, education and employment.

The government of Côte d'Ivoire in April launched a special programme to enable certain groups who have been living on Ivorian soil for generations to acquire nationality by declaration. This new temporary procedure is intended to resolve the problem of historical migrants who were legally entitled to acquire Ivorian nationality, but failed to do so in time.

Ousmane discovered how difficult life without a nationality could be, when he tried to escape a life of exploitation. In 1987, aged just six years, he was taken from his village by a woman who claimed to be an aunt and sold him to a landowner in Gbapleu, about 650 kilometres north-west of the Côte d'Ivoire capital Abidjan.

Over the next eight years, he was forced to work in the cocoa plantations of an abusive landowner. He had to clear brush, plant and pick cocoa beans and plough fields, and was severely beaten if he complained or was too slow. "They would hit me across the face, across the chest, over and over again," he says.

Being stateless made him more vulnerable; without legal status it was difficult for him to make a formal complaint. But one day, when he was about 14, Ousmane escaped and made his way to his birth village in search of relatives. Since he had no documents, he did what many stateless people desperate for some kind of legal identity do.

He obtained the consular card of a young Burkinabé man who had recently died and used it to cross the country and get past checkpoints. The card is issued by the Burkina Faso authorities to Burkinabés living in Côte d'Ivoire to confirm their citizenship. There was no sign of his elusive father, so Ousmane had little choice but to return to Gbapleu, where he at least knew people.

He realized more and more over the ensuing years that his lack of documentation was a serious problem if he was caught using someone else's identity card, he could face criminal charges. So he eventually decided to apply for a consular card from the Burkinabé mission in Duékoué, one of the main towns in western Côte d'Ivoire.

With this document, he would be able to prove that he was recognized by the authorities as a Burkinabé citizen and receive assistance from the Burkina Faso authorities. But, with no documents to confirm his identity other than a stolen ID card, his application was immediately rejected.

To avoid further abuse and stigma, he contacted staff at a local social services centre and they put him in touch with UNHCR. At the time, he was planning to leave Gbapleu the next day, in search of assistance but mostly to escape further forced labour or beatings. He hopes that, with UNHCR support, his case will be successful, but he remains stateless and will continue to live on the margins of society, vulnerable, poor and easy to ignore.

* Name changed for protection reasons.

By Nora Sturm in Duékoué, Côte d'Ivoire