Systematized child labor: they denounced one of the best-known brands of chocolates

Around 200 million Cadbury cream eggs are sold every Easter in the UK, but there appears to be a cruel case of child labor behind them (Getty Photo)
Around 200 million Cadbury cream eggs are sold every Easter in the UK, but there appears to be a cruel case of child labor behind them (Getty Photo)

Investigation conducted by the journalist Antonio Barnett for the program Shipping from Channel 4 in the UK (a public television channel) revealed the horrors of the child labor behind the production chain of one of the most loved Easter cakes in Italy Great Britain.

The reporter went to GhanaWest Africa, where children up to 10 years They do hard work on the farms cocoa in the scorching heat and on shifts of up to nine hours a day.

These companies would be within the production chain of Cadburyone of Britain’s best-loved brands, sells a few 200 million classic creamy eggs each Easter season, and which in all its units comes with the seal Life with cocoawhich guarantees consumers that the ingredients are purchased ethically.

But according to Barnett’s research, children in Ghana they wield meter-long machetes to cut through hard undergrowth, without protective clothing, or break pods with long, sharp knives, and many suffer severe injuries from the dangerous work.

In addition, the reporter found that farmers were paid less than £ 2 ($ 2.6) per day for cocoa they sell at Mondelez, the US company that owns Cadbury.

Children aged 10 and under work intense shifts of nine hours or more for minimum wages that do not exceed $ 2 per day (Photo: Canale 4)
Children aged 10 and under work intense shifts of nine hours or more for minimum wages that do not exceed $ 2 per day (Photo: Canale 4)

“The farmers are paid so little that they cannot afford to hire adults to work on the farm, so they have to use their children.”Barnett said The sun.

“So they are taken out of school to work on the farm. But there have also been cases in which they were not children of the family, but had been brought from elsewhere to work on the farm “He adds.

Mondelez, Cadbury’s parent company, states that “forcefully refute ”the accusations of profiting from child labor.

Cocoa Life, whose goal was to raise the living standards of cocoa farmers and their families and eradicate child labor, was created by Cadbury in 2012.

“We believe that children’s work is education and play. No amount of child labor in the cocoa supply chain should be acceptable. “ they say on their website.

But a decade later, an estimated 1.56 million children are involved in cocoa production in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, with 95% of them involved in dangerous child labor, according to the latest report from the National Opinion Research Center.

The report found that, despite promises from chocolate companies, including Cadbury, The percentage of children between five and 17 years old involved in cocoa processing has actually increased in Ghana, from 44% to 55%, since 2009.

Under Ghanaian law, it is illegal for children under the age of 13 to work and no one under the age of 18 should perform hazardous work.

But on the first farm Barnett visited, he found brothers 10 And 11 years beating cocoa pods from trees with long sticks.

He later watched the children make their way through the dense undergrowth with lethal machetes, as sweat dripped from their bodies in the scorching sun.

One of the children discovered by Antony Barnett during his trip to Ghana (Photo: Canale 4)
One of the children discovered by Antony Barnett during his trip to Ghana (Photo: Canale 4)

One of the minors revealed that his father keeps him out of school to harvest cocoa and showed Barnett a scar on his leg from being cut with a machete.

He also had trouble lifting hers huge baskets filled with pods that the children would have to haul miles across farmland, and the father admitted they often have neck pain from heavy loads.

On another farm a 12-year-old boy was sent to work across the country, living with the farmer’s family, because his father couldn’t pay to send him to school.

He worked many hours opening pods with a sharp steel knife, more than 30 centimeters long, and the equivalent of $ 46 was paid over several monthswhich he sent directly to his parents.

A girl of about 14 also revealed that her aunt had trafficked her from the north of the country five years ago and she told him she would babysit younger children and learn to be a seamstress.

Instead, they forced her to work hard all day in the blazing sun, doing hard labor, and denied her the opportunity to go to school.

“My uncle says he has a hard time feeding his children, so if I join them he won’t be able to buy school books.”said the young woman.

Barnett said The sun who was surprised to find such small children in obvious danger.

“I was expecting to see them pulling out pods or spraying pesticides, so what surprised me the most was how involved they were in this really dangerous job. It was the use of machetes and these sharp knives that was really troubling. ” She said.

The reporter noted that the children were so small that the machete was more than half their height, so the maneuvers were very difficult and exhausting and injured with the tool.

The fixed minimum price for cocoa is only 660 Ghanaian cedi (about $ 104) per bag and Mondelez pays Cocoa Life farmers an additional “premium” of 10 cedi, which is about $ 1.31.

One bag contains enough cocoa to make 4000 bars of the famous Dairy Milk and the average farmer produces eight a year.

For every British pound ($ 1.31) spent on chocolate in the UK, 29 cents go to the retailer, 38 cents to production and distribution, 12 cents to taxes and 10 cents to the profit of the producer. This leaves farmers only 11 cents to cover cultivation costs and local taxes.

The Easter eggs sold by Cadbury have the Cocoa Life seal which supposedly guarantees good practices in obtaining their ingredients (Photo: Getty)
The Easter eggs sold by Cadbury have the Cocoa Life seal which supposedly guarantees good practices in obtaining their ingredients (Photo: Getty)

Mondelez chairman Dirk Van de Put declined to speak to Barnett about the show, but the owner of the Cadbury released a statement stating: “We are deeply concerned about the incidents documented in Dispatches.”

“We explicitly prohibit child labor in our operations and have made significant efforts through our Cocoa Life program to improve the protection of children in the communities where we source cocoa. a position against they stated.

“The well-being of children and families in the foreground is our primary concern and we are committed to investigating further.”the company reiterated.

The answer was not enough, say activists such as Ayn Riggs, founder of Slave Free Chocolate, who described the evidence obtained by the Dispatches program as “frightening”.

“The part that really infuriates me is that these chocolate companies promised to clean up this over 20 years ago. They admitted that they knew they were profiting from child labor and fulfilled their promises not only to these children, but to everyone in the world. “the activist said.

Cocoa Life, whose slogan is “Cacao Done Right”, It claims it has invested $ 393 million over the past decade to “empower at least 200,000 cocoa farmers and reach one million community members.”

But Barnett says the investment had little impact on poor farmers. “On the website and in its promotional literature, Cadbury claims to make a difference. But I can only judge from the people we spoke to, not just the children, but all the cocoa farmers. “ says the reporter.

“They criticized the amount of investments Cocoa Life was making and they criticized the money they were making for their cocoa beans. Nobody has anything good to say about Cocoa Life “he reaffirms, and calls for a boycott of the company.

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