Child slavery found on West African Fairtrade cocoa farms

25 March 2010

BBC Panorama has uncovered child slavery and child labour on Fairtrade certified cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire that supply cocoa to Cadburys and Nestle.

The investigative news programme indentified trafficked children within the Kuapo Kokoo cooperative in Ghana, which supplies Fairtrade cocoa to Cadburys.

Panorama also uncovered child labour on farms of the Kavokiva cooperative in Ivory Coast, a Fairtrade cocoa supplier to Nestle. Together Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire countries account for 60 per cent of the global cocoa supply.

Fairtrade guarantees to pay farmers an amount above the world cocoa price to help ensure they receive a ‘living wage’. Fairtrade also pays a social premium to farmers, which is spent on projects that benefit the community.

However, the discovery of slavery on Fairtrade farms has raised serious concerns over the effectiveness of the Fairtrade approach in preventing child slavery.

Commenting on Panorama’s findings Aidan McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International, said: “With one in ten chocolate bars now carrying the Fairtrade label, ethically motivated consumers have the understandable expectation that a Fairtrade product is free of forced and child labour.

“Slavery and child labour are not simply issues of poverty and no one should be so naive as to expect them to simply disappear as wages rise. The eradication of child labour and child trafficking is a social and human rights challenge as well as an economic one, especially so when those in slavery belong to vulnerable minorities. Without care there is a danger that economic assistance to slavery using communities will simply reinforce the structure that sustain child and force labour already.

“The task of eradication is an imperative on all of us and will require some hard thinking and painful choices to attain. In initial conversations Fairtrade has shown an openness to engaging more systematically with these challenges and we await with hope renewed action to demonstrate their commitment to tackling these problems.”