We source our cocoa beans from areas where child labor occurs very often. What was that? Yes, it’s true and that’s a deliberate choice on our part. We don’t bury our heads in the sand when we come across child labor. We want to identify instances of child labor; only then can we take action and make an impact. The Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) helps us get an overview of the child labor situation and ways to prevent it.
Tony's research on child labor
CLMRS in shortA group of selected farmers are trained within their community. These local farmers talk to other farmers in the community several times a year to find out if there’s a chance anyone is using child labor. Then there are school visits, and, of course, the farmers' children are interviewed on a regular basis. After several training sessions and the distribution of the required materials, we were finally able to start collecting data under the watchful eye of Tony’s Impact Cheerleader Diara.
Child labor..Now what?Although we’re far from done, so far we’ve come across 30 cases of child labor on the farms. Yes, most of these kids do go to school, but they also help their family on the land, for example by doing dangerous work with machetes, carrying heavy loads on their heads, or by spraying pesticides that end up on themselves and their families.
It’s good that we’ve been able to identify these children, because otherwise we couldn’t do anything about this problem. We’ll be able to share more insights when we have more complete data in a few months.
When we find child labor, we don’t pretend it's not happening.So what happens if child labor is discovered or there’s a high chance child labor is being used? First of all, we team up with ICI, our partner cooperatives, the communities in West Africa and other key players to see if we can find a sustainable solution. We talk to parents about the kinds of activities that are or aren’t appropriate for a child of a certain age. Other options include getting a birth certificate for a child so they can go to school, or helping organize activities that provide a bit of additional income. Basically, it’s all about making sure children don’t need to work.
CLMRS is here to stayWe have confidence in the CLMRS, because it's all about trust and openness.
If you would like to know more about CLMRS, please go to our annual FAIR report (page 88).