A decade after the $100 billion chocolate industry pledged to cut child labor in the world’s top cocoa producers, a report sponsored by the U.S. government shows the problem has actually gotten worse.
About 43% of children from farming families in growing areas were carrying out hazardous activities in Ivory Coast and Ghana’s cocoa farms in the 2018-19 season, according to a report from research group NORC at the University of Chicago. That’s up from 30% a decade earlier. The prevalence of child labor overall increased to 45% from 31% in the same period, the report showed.
The findings are a blow to the cocoa and chocolate industry, which agreed a decade ago to cut the worst forms of child labor by 70% by 2020. They also come just before elections in West Africa and at a time lawmakers in Europe and the U.S. are pressuring Ivory Coast and Ghana to clean up the sector if they are to continue to import beans. Huge increases in production were one of the many challenges chocolate makers investing in sustainability faced.
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