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3 Apr 2022

Jon Ungoed-Thomas, The Guardian

Ghana: Documentary finds children using machetes on cocoa farms supplying Cadbury owner Mondelēz International, more than 20 years after commitments to eliminate child labour

"Cadbury faces fresh accusations of child labour on cocoa farms in Ghana", 3 April 2022

The food giant that owns the Cadbury brand is embroiled in fresh allegations of employing child labour after an investigation obtained footage of children working with machetes on cocoa farms in its supply chain.

Children as young as 10 have allegedly been found working in Ghana to harvest cocoa pods to supply Mondelēz International, which owns Cadbury. Campaigners say the farmers are being paid less than £2 a day and can’t afford to hire adult workers.

The Channel 4 Dispatches investigation... comes more than two decades after the chocolate industry pledged to eliminate child labour...

On one of the farms alleged to be supplying Mondelēz, two children with machetes were filmed by the documentary team weeding the plantations. Children were also filmed using sharp knives to open cocoa pods and swinging long sticks with blades tied to them to harvest the pods from the cocoa trees. None of the children were wearing protective clothing. The daughter of one farmer, claimed to be supplying Mondelēz, said she had sliced her foot open while using a long machete.

On one of the smallholdings, a niece of the farmer said she thought she was going to her uncle’s farm to help with childcare but claims she was being forced to work long hours on the farm and not allowed to go to school. When asked why she did not speak out, she said she was “afraid”.

Under Ghanaian law, it is illegal for children under 13 to work on cocoa farms. There is also a ban on anyone under 18 being involved in hazardous labour...

Ghana is the world’s second biggest cocoa producer after Côte d’Ivoire...A cocoa farmer will typically receive 7p from a milk chocolate bar costing £1 in the UK, and 11p from a dark chocolate bar.

It means many live in extreme poverty while facing rising costs from the impacts of climate change, because of unpredictable weather patterns and changes in crop-threatening pests and diseases. Ninety percent of the world’s cocoa beans are harvested on small, family farms with less than two hectares of land...

A Mondelēz International spokesperson said: “We’re deeply concerned by the incidents documented in the Dispatches programme. We explicitly prohibit child labour in our operations and have been working relentlessly to take a stand against this, making significant efforts through our Cocoa Life programme to improve the protection of children in the communities where we source cocoa, including in Ghana.

“The welfare of the children and families featured is our primary concern and we commit to investigating further so we can provide any support needed. As part of our Cocoa Life programme, we have child labour monitoring and remediation systems in place in Ghana, which means community members and NGO partners are trained to provide assistance to vulnerable children, and once identified, we can help to address any cases of child labour.” The company said it had requested additional information from the Dispatches team so it could investigate.