ETHICS IN COCOA PRODUCTION 1
Over the years,the cocoa industry has been regarded as one of the most unethicalwith respect to the use of child labor in the initial stages ofproduction. It is estimated that approximately 70% of the world’scocoa comes from two West African nations namely Ivory Coast andGhana (Carrier & Luetchford, 2012). Despite concerted efforts toensure that there is compliance with the international labor laws,research indicates that the industry is still massively affected byforced labor. Such practices are in complete violation of the laborlaws as contained in the International Labor Organization (ILO)doctrines (International Labor Rights Forum, 2016).
The breach ofethical practices has affected various generations across thecocoa-producing nations. The citizens are known to grapple with highlevels of poverty despite the time and effort placed in the cocoafields. The children that are forced to work in the cocoa firms areexposed to various forms of dangers (Carrier & Luetchford, 2012).Their welfare is, therefore, likely to deteriorate due to the lack ofnecessary facilities. The lack of ethical practices in the industrynecessitated the intervention of the United Nations (World Vision,2016). The industry is known for having one of the worst forms ofchild labor in the world. This paper highlights the extensive effectsof child labor in the cocoa-producing countries and the correctivemeasures that have been put in place to ensure that there iscompliance with the international labor laws.
The demand forchocolate around the globe has led to a substantial demand for cheapcocoa. However, the individuals working on the cocoa firms have notbeen fairly compensated for their work. Most of the children workingin the industry are forced to fend for themselves due to the highlevels of poverty in the respective nations (Carrier &Luetchford, 2012). However, in some instances, the children are notinvolved in the business by choice. There has been an increase in thenumber of children trafficked and sold by their “owners” who areunaware of the dangers the young ones are exposed to in the cocoafields (International Labor Rights Forum, 2016). According tostatistics, most of the children are aged between twelve and sixteen.However, in some instances, children as young as five years have beenknown to work in the cocoa firms. Of the total underage population inthe industry, 40% are girls. Therefore, the first ethical standardviolated is the employment of young workers (Carrier &Luetchford, 2012).
The work scheduleof the young workers is known to begin as early as six in the morningbefore extending to the later parts of the evening (Carrier &Luetchford, 2012). While going about their duties in the farms, someof them use chainsaws to clear the land. However, other children usemachetes to cut the bean pods. This is the second practice that is incomplete contravention of the standard ethical practices asestablished by international conventions. To begin with, the workersare forced to work beyond the core working hours as per theInternational Labor Organization legislations (World Vision, 2016).Additionally, the tools used in the farms have placed the employees–both young and old- in danger of suffering from serious injuries.In this regard, the working environment is not favorable since theworkers are not given safety attires to avoid injuries that may arisein the course of their duties (International Labor Rights Forum,2016).
In addition tothe dangerous tools such as machetes and chainsaws that are used bythe children in the firms, the exposure to chemicals is also likelyto have detrimental effects on the health of the workers. Theagricultural chemicals used on the cocoa farms are harmful to theemployees in both short-term and long-term situations (World Vision,2016). The use of such substances is caused by the tropicalconditions in the West African countries. The conditions aresynonymous with insect infestations, and to counter this problem theemployers resort to the use of large amounts of industrialinsecticides. Children as young as ten years are forced to spray thecocoa pods without wearing any form of protective equipment.
The laborconditions in the cocoa farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast are incomplete contravention of the international labor laws (World Vision,2016). Additionally, fundamental human rights violation is a commonpractice in the industry. Even though the farm owners make abnormalprofits from the use of child labor on their property, they are notable to provide food to their employees. The children are forced tofeed on cheap foods such as corn paste and bananas (Carrier &Luetchford, 2012). In addition to this, the housing conditions are ina deplorable state with most of the children forced to sleep onwooden planks within poorly-ventilated housing units. The children’sright to education is also abused. According to research, 10% of thechild laborers Ghana, and 40% in the Ivory Coast are denied theopportunity to attend school (World Vision, 2016). This is likely tohave both short-term and long-term effects (International LaborRights Forum, 2016). In this case, the children are denied the threeessential rights according to the international conventions. Theyinclude the right to education, clothing, and shelter.
Following massiveefforts by the local agencies and the international community,various forms of practices have been recommended. Such strategies areaimed at improving the ethical practices in the cocoa firms (Carrier& Luetchford, 2012). The chocolate industry plays a significantrole in this case since most of the propositions are based on thesourcing of cocoa. Stringent measures have been put in place by themanufacturers to ensure that the cocoa beans are obtained fromreliable sources that adhere to the ethical practices as required bythe International Labor Organization (ILO) (World Vision, 2016). Thecommitment to ethical practices focuses on the abolishment of unfairlabor practices and the causes of such problems.
The first policyhas been based on transparency in the cocoa supply chain from thefirm level to the production phase (World Vision, 2016). Thecompanies are required to provide their customers with informationabout the sources of the cocoa beans. The manufacturers are alsoencouraged to support the establishments of systems that improve thequality of cocoa beans. In the past, it has been established thatsome of the rogue farm owners were colluding with government agenciesin the violation of the fundamental rights of the employers.Currently, any agreement between the administration and the companiesis to be made public (International Labor Rights Forum, 2016).
Concerted effortshave been made to ensure that the chocolate-manufacturingcorporations commit to sourcing specifically from farms that are incomplete adherence to the ILO guidelines (World Vision, 2016).Additionally, the producers should offer fair prices to enable thefarms to meet such standards. This strategy is achieved by ensuringthat independent auditors certify the legitimacy of the agreementsbetween the farms and the manufacturers. In this regard, the conceptof fair and adequate payment to the farmers has also beenhighlighted. This refers to the price that exceeds the cost ofproduction and as such, the farm owner is in a position to meet theoperating obligations such providing for the basic needs of theworkers and their families (Carrier & Luetchford, 2012).
Another strategythat has been implemented relates to the implementation and paymentof structural practices as a means of ensuring that there isconsistency in better prices to the farmers. This involves havingrelatively shorter supply chains and encouraging cooperation amongthe market stakeholders. Additionally, the provision of more marketinformation to the farmers enables the forging of better ties betweenall the parties involved in the cocoa production process.
Through theInternational Labor Organizations (ILO) and the local state agencies,the process of drafting and enforcing both the national andinternational regulations has been successful (Satre, 2005). Suchlaws aim to eradicate human trafficking and debt bondage in the cocoaindustry. In addition to this, the farm owners are required to commitfully to the Fair Trade Certified sourcing of the cocoa beans(International Labor Rights Forum, 2016). They are also expected tofinance the process of rehabilitating and educating of the childrenthat have been victims of the inhumane labor practices in the cocoafarms (World Vision, 2016).
In conclusion, itis clear that there are various violations of the ethical standardsin the cocoa industry. This is in the form of child labor practicesand denial of basic rights such as food, shelter, and clothing. Thefarm owners have taken advantage of the poor economic conditions inboth Ghana and Ivory Coast to exploit the population (Satre, 2005).However, as a result of increased corporation between theinternational community and the local authorities, the conditions inthe industry have improved. Compliance with the International LaborOrganization (ILO) operational framework has facilitated the improvedconditions and adherence to the expected ethical standards in thecocoa industry (World Vision, 2016).
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Carrier, J. G., & Luetchford, P. (2012). Ethicalconsumption: Social value and economic practice. New York:Berghahn Books.
International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), (2016). The chocolateindustry has a century-long history of forced and child labor in theproduction of cocoa. Retrieved fromhttp://www.laborrights.org/industries/cocoa
Satre, L. J. (2005). Chocolate on trial: Slavery, politics,and the ethics of business. Athens: Ohio University Press.
World Vision. (2016). Chocolate’s Bitter Taste: Forced, Child andTrafficked Labor in the Cocoa Industry.
Bottom of Form