Gates Foundation grant to World Cocoa Foundation to help West African cocoa farmers - labour rights questions raised
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Author: Kristi Heim, Seattle Times [USA]
When the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation granted $48 million last week to help West African cocoa and cashew farmers, it stepped into an industry that has a bitter history with child-labor problems. Its $23 million grant to a cocoa-industry group is raising questions about labor rights...Hershey, Kraft Foods and Mars, along with Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, were among those contributing $42 million in cash and in-kind donations to the Gates project. Starbucks was also one of the corporate sponsors.
Author: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The cocoa project aims to increase farming household incomes through improved farmer knowledge and productivity, better cocoa quality, crop diversification, and improved supply chain efficiencies. The five-year project will reach approximately 200,000 smallholder cocoa farming households in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria and aims to help farmers double their incomes. The project will complement the broader work of the World Cocoa Foundation...Financial and in-kind contributions for the cocoa project come from...Hershey Company, Kraft Foods...Mars...Archer Daniels Midland...Barry Callebaut...Blommer Chocolate Company, and Cargill...Armajaro, Ecom-Agrocacao, Olam International...Starbucks...
Author: Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Forum, in
Some of the press releases from the Gates Foundation and WCF correctly identify improving farmer access to market information and agricultural inputs as well as strengthening farmer organization as key areas to focus on, but we wonder if the WCF is best suited to achieve these goals. We encourage the Gates Foundation to engage directly with farmers, cooperatives and unions in West Africa to hear directly from them what they need to improve living and working conditions. Our suspicion is that they would get different answers than from the multinational chocolate companies. [refers to Archer Daniels Midland, Nestlé, Cadbury Schweppes (now Cadbury), Kraft]