Cocoa beans are dried in the hot sun before being sold on to wholesalers
Chocolate manufacturers and industry bodies gave the following comments to Panorama regarding the programme Chocolate: The Bitter Truth.
The programme is Wednesday, 24 March on BBC One at 9pm and available to watch again in the UK on the
Fairtrade is working as hard as possible to play an even more proactive role towards the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. No person or organisation is currently able to guarantee 100% that, in the context of endemic poverty and insecurity in many developing countries, child labour will never occur.
Fairtrade guarantees that through our standards, our certification, our producer support and our work to strengthen farmers' organisations to implement community-owned programmes, we will do everything we can to tackle it on a progressive basis, and to secure both the livelihoods of farmers and the wellbeing of children.
This is a brief excerpt of the comments that the Fairtrade Foundation has provided to Panorama. The organisation's extensive response and additional information about its work in the cocoa industry have been made available in PDF format.
Cadbury's response in relation to this issue of child labour:
Cadbury takes the issue of child labour very seriously, and is wholly committed to eliminating it.
Through our investment in the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership and our partnership with Fairtrade, our aim is to enable farmers to live and work in thriving cocoa communities for the long term.
This means supporting farmers to increase their incomes from cocoa and other crops, to improve life in cocoa villages and to tackle issues including child labour.
We are investing £45 million over 10 years into cocoa sustainability and one of the key themes for our investment is to eliminate child labour.
We are also strong supporters and funders of the International Cocoa Initiative, who have been leaders in developing best practice to tackle the root causes of child labour in West Africa.
Cadbury's response in relation to the Kuapa Kokoo suspension:
Although investigation has determined that Cadbury's Fairtrade cocoa beans have not been sourced from any of the implicated societies (either prior to or during the suspension), Cadbury is clear that any instances of child labour are unacceptable and supports the suspension process instigated by Fairtrade and the requirement for immediate corrective actions.
In Cadbury's view the audit, suspension and subsequent remediation actions provide strong evidence that the Fairtrade system is functioning effectively.
Panorama has been unable to provide us with any evidence whatsoever of child labour being used to produce cocoa beans purchased by Nestlé.
In addition, Panorama has been unable to provide Nestlé with sufficient details to investigate the areas where they have raised other concerns and Nestlé has therefore been unable to address these in any detail.
Nestlé has been working in the Ivory Coast, one of the poorest countries in the world, for over 50 years and there is certainly more to be done.
There are many challenges in cocoa farming and the chocolate industry shares a long-term commitment to improving conditions for Ivory Coast farmers and their families.
As a signatory of the Harkin-Engel Protocol 2001, for nearly 10 years Nestlé has been working together with others in industry, governments, NGOs and international organisations including the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to address labour practices on cocoa farms and we will continue to do so.
As part of Nestlé's Cocoa Plan, Nestlé has committed £65 million over the next 10 years to address key economic, social and environmental issues faced by the farming communities that we work with.
This builds on Nestlé's initiatives to date including £35 million that Nestlé has invested in cocoa sustainability initiatives in the Ivory Coast over the last 15 years.
Other partners Nestlé works with include the UTZ Certified Good Inside Cocoa Programme and the World Cocoa Foundation.
We are extremely proud to be working with the Fairtrade Foundation - an organization that is well known and respected by UK consumers, that shares our long-term commitment to improving conditions for Ivory Coast farmers and understands the challenges this involves.
Consumers can be assured that the cocoa used in Nestlé's Fairtrade Kit Kat has been sourced from certified cooperatives that are independently audited against Fairtrade Standards, and who are committed to using the benefits of Fairtrade to improve life for the farmers, their children and the wider community.
All Nestlé suppliers are required to comply with Nestlé's Supplier Code, which prohibits the use of forced or compulsory labour, and the use of child labour (meaning work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous or harmful to children, or improperly interferes with their schooling needs).
If any instance of child exploitation were to be found on any of the farms from which Nestlé cocoa is sourced, they would be fully investigated and immediate action taken.
Regarding the law suit filed by International Labour Rights Foundation in July 2005:
We are unable to comment on the particulars of pending litigation involving Nestlé USA. We strongly believe however that this legal action is totally without merit and Nestlé has filed a motion to have the case dismissed in its entirety. Nestlé is committed to following and respecting all international laws and does not tolerate illegal or discriminatory labour practices.
GIG - GLOBAL ISSUES GROUP
Unacceptable labour practices on cocoa farms in the Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana are a recognised issue, with children participating in hazardous farming tasks or working at the expense of attending school.
We believe that no child should ever be harmed in the process of growing or harvesting cocoa.
At the same time over 1.5 million decent and hard working cocoa farming families, living in the Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, depend upon cocoa for their livelihood and it is incumbent on us not to put at risk the economic welfare of these cocoa farming families.
For nearly ten years now, the global chocolate and cocoa industry have made extraordinary efforts, along with the Governments of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana and Non-governmental organisations, to bring about positive and sustainable change to the way cocoa is grown and harvested in West Africa.
Collectively the global chocolate and cocoa industry has spent more than 75 million US Dollars in support of cocoa families and communities over the past decade and we are currently supporting some 40 social and economic programmes in West Africa, that improve the lives of cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.
In 2001, Industry representatives of the chocolate and cocoa industry signed an agreement, today known as the Harkin-Engel Protocol, which set out a series of steps aimed at eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour from cocoa growing in the Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.
Since its signing, the Protocol has been a positive and important catalyst for change in labour practices in cocoa farming, including sector-wide public Certification of the cocoa growing region, in both Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, and the creation of the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), uniquely working to combat the Worst Forms of Child Labour in these countries.
Our firm belief is that no child should ever be harmed in the farming of cocoa.
The chocolate and cocoa sector is committed to a long term programme of investment and improvement of social conditions in cocoa producing countries.
Kuapa Kokoo is also one of the world's oldest certified supplier of Fairtrade cocoa. This too is sold to the world market through Cocobod.
Over the years Kuapa Kokoo has invested heavily in a variety of social projects including schools, village health schemes, farmer education and training, democratic practices and, crucially, matters of policy in regard to the minimum standards for dealing with the worst forms of child labour. For us the main question is not whether the worst forms of child labour exist in the cocoa sector in Ghana, it is widely recognised that it remains an issue in the cocoa industry, but how Kuapa Kokoo as a farmer-owned cooperative can help eradicate it. For us Fairtrade is an important part of the solution as it creates the incentives and promotes the systems required to identify and respond to child labour. However, no certification system can guarantee that all child labour has been eliminated as this is an ongoing process that requires actions by everyone involved in the sector.
Kuapa Kokoo is committed to eliminating the worst forms of child labour in the industry and has adopted and implemented a robust set of policies in this regard. Our policies are in line with ILO and Fairtrade minimum standards and were the focus for substantial debate during the Annual General Meeting of Kuapa Kokoo members held in Kumasi, Ghana in July 2009. A comprehensive policy on the elimination of unacceptable child labour practices was adopted at this meeting.
For the record:
1. Audits and suspensions:
Kuapa Kokoo was incorporated in 1993 and first certified as a Fairtrade supplier of cocoa in 1994. Since then it has been audited annually and, until 2009, had never failed an audit. It is true that in August 2009 FLO-Cert conducted an unannounced audit, following which it suspended Kuapa Kokoo from the Fairtrade Register pending corrective actions. Kuapa Kokoo formed a task force to investigate and deal with the suspension issues. The affected societies were suspended pending the outcome of this investigation. Kuapa Kokoo responded to the FLO audit in a timely and effective manner and in line with existing policy and was promptly reinstated.
It is true that Kuapa Kokoo suspended the societies visited by FLO pending investigation and that this related to a reported breach of Fairtrade labour standards. Following investigation Kuapa Kokoo put in place a remedial plan for the affected societies and, following further investigation, these societies have had their suspension lifted with effect from January 2010.
3. Breaches of ILO 182:
It is important to understand that Kuapa Kokoo does not employ farmers and does not own cocoa farms. It is a co-operative of farmers and it buys cocoa from its members. It is, however, committed to eliminating the worst forms of child labour and does not tolerate such practices from members. As we have said, Kuapa has a robust set of policies in this regard and these are widely understood by members. Where breaches occur, Kuapa Kokoo can and will act speedily to remedy the situation. Kuapa Kokoo has an Internal Control System in place specifically designed to monitor compliance of its members with FLO standards and deal with any identified problems.
Kuapa Kokoo's own investigation last year did identify the two children identified by you. Kuapa Kokoo ensured that the children were placed in school and had uniforms and equipment.
The programme of activities to ensure that such breaches do not occur come under the umbrella of the Internal Control System. This includes an ongoing programme of education, inspection and farmer training. The specific societies identified in the FLO audit have since participated in an ongoing programme of education to ensure this does not happen again.
5. Supply of cocoa during suspension:
We note your agreement that Fairtrade standards allow certified organisations to continue to supply Fairtrade certified products to fulfil pre-existing contracts. Kuapa Kokoo continued to sell cocoa, as permitted by Fairtrade Standards, to Cocobod. It did not, however, purchase cocoa from the societies suspended in September 2009 and therefore did not supply cocoa from them.
6. Response to failings:
Our response to this suspension in particular and to the ongoing challenge of dealing with child labour in the cocoa industry is robust, programmatic and ongoing. It is based on the policies on engagement with government and NGOs, on investment in our Internal Control System which monitors both agricultural and labour practices, and crucially, on a systematic programme of farmer education. We are very proud of all we have achieved within Kuapa Kokoo. We subscribe to Fairtrade standards and are pleased that in 15 years we have only once failed an audit. We take the allegations relating to child labour very seriously and are committed to ensuring the Fairtrade cocoa, and the chocolate made from it, is both good for farmers and good for consumers.
This is an edited version of Kuapa Kokoo's comments to Panorama.
As soon as we received your correspondence, we set up an internal inquiry in order to check the truthfulness of your information to identify the people and places most likely affected, and to detect the possible failure areas.
Regarding the sale of non-certified products on the Fairtrade market:
The certification of a co-operative on the Fairtrade market does not prevent co-operatives from being supplied from growers or suppliers who are non-members if there is demand for non-Fairtrade certified products. In fact, during the 2009/2010 season we gathered some 2000 tonnes of cocoa of which 73% was for the Fairtrade market (including some 350 tonnes delivered directly to Nestlé, that is to say some 18.4 % of the total tonnes gathered.)
Regarding our ability to distinguish between the certified and the non-certified products. (In other words, traceability)
Since 2005, we have set up a traceability procedure and this has been updated on several occasions. The last version of setup dates from January 2010. By applying it, we are able to distinguish between the products of the members and those of non-members, taking special care that only the products of members are sold on the Fairtrade market. T o conclude, our co-operative is authorised to buy non-certified products but it only sells such products on the non-Fairtrade market.
Regarding child labour in the plantations:
A long time before being certified for Fairtrade, the co-operative has been fully committed in the fight against the employment of child labour. In fact, ever since September 2001, we have conducted numerous actions, with the support of organisations and national and international NGO's. Our actions have grown stronger since 2004, when we became certified for Fairtrade.
Furthermore, since 2008 the co-operative has established a Charter to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
The internal enquiry which we implemented had the following further aims:
- To check that the taskforces to fight against child labour carry out the actions that are assigned to them and that children of members of the co-operative are not victims of the worst forms of labour.
- To note down any possible failures so that the central committee can take the necessary corrective measures. The results of this enquiry demonstrate that the taskforces are continuing to make people aware of the problem, and also that it is necessary to bring a closer type of support to some of the taskforces in order to intensify the raising of awareness.
It should be noted that these awareness programmes involve almost exclusively members of the co-operative - the great majority of whom are illiterate. The taskforces combating child labour are working with them at a rate which allows a sustainable and global solution. That is why our awareness campaign goes hand in hand with supporting the education of children.
In 2005, a contribution from the American NGO ILRF (International Labour Rights Funds) of 100 white boards and of teaching material allowed the cooperative to create four 'lucky' schools in our areas (called 'sections'). The 'lucky' schools have been set up to allow poorer parents, who live too far from traditional schools, to educate their children at the lowest cost.
Also, each year, the cooperative grants sums of money to its members in proportion to the volume of products they have delivered to the cooperative in order to help them pay for the education of their children. We are also about to have projects to build schools in areas (called 'sections') of the cooperative which do not have any. This is a project, known as an integrated project, which combines education, food and health for children. Along with Belgian Oxfam, we recently drafted plans to put children from the cooperative in touch with children from Belgium.
All the above activities and projects have been developed because we believe that in order to efficiently and sustainably solve the issue of child labour, any measures must take into account cultural realities, as well as economic and social constraints of the populations concerned.
According to us the procedure is to disseminate amongst our members any information regarding the issue of child labour. Of course, the cooperative cannot do this alone. For this reason, we urgently invite all support from organisations and NGOs who are sensitive to the well-being of children.
We suppose one of the aims of your approach is to help towards the protection and promotion of children's rights as well as the protection of their physical integrity and health. That is why, we invite you to carefully note that action has been taken, other activities are about to be achieved, and others are being planned on a short and medium term basis in view of sustainably safeguarding and protecting children's rights.
We therefore hope you will bring to light the real and sincere concern of the Executives of the KAVOKIVA Agricultural Co-operative to comply with the demands of fair-trade in particular on traceability of products and on child labour. They are doing their best for children of members to avoid them being exposed to dangerous jobs and that their rights, and in particular their right to a good education and health are protected and promoted. At the end of the day, we hope that ultimately the broadcasting of your coverage contributes towards efficiently protecting children's rights.
This is an edited version of Kavokiva's comments to Panorama.