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Ghana: Research says increase in cocoa prices could help end child labour

‘Study suggests higher cocoa prices could end child labor in Ghana’ 6 June 2019

Ghana could end child labor on cocoa farms by increasing the prices it pays impoverished farmers by about 50%, a U.S. study said on Wednesday. Paying just 3% more at the farm gate could stop children in Ghana doing the most hazardous tasks, like using machetes, or working more than 42 hours a week, researchers said, as the illegal practice is driven by poverty and rarely prosecuted. Ghana is the world’s second largest cocoa grower, More than 700,000 children help produce the crop. “We figured there has to be some kind of incentive, on top of the laws, to get the farmers to stop using child labor,” said Jeff Luckstead, an agricultural economist at the University of Arkansas, co-author of the study in the journal PLoS ONE.

…Most cocoa farming families live below the World Bank’s poverty line of $2 a day, according to the charity International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), fuelling child labor. But Genevieve LeBaron of Britain’s Sheffield University, who was not part of the study, said the key to ending poverty among cocoa farmers was not necessarily raising COCOBOD’s prices but more fair distribution of profits within the chocolate sector. The global chocolate industry was worth about $85 billion in 2018, and is projected to jump to $102 billion by 2022, according to leading research firm Mintel.

…Big chocolate makers have been under pressure to clean up their supply chains since reports of child labor on West African cocoa farms emerged in the 1990s, with major names like Mars and Hershey promising to only buy ethical cocoa by 2020. The International Labour Organization has said the world is unlikely to meet a target of ending child labor by 2025, which is part of 17 global development goals agreed in 2015 at the United Nations. Researchers came up with the price premiums by analyzing data between 2003 and 2015, including household budgets, cocoa prices and production and children’s education and leisure time. While recognizing a 50% price increase was “implausible”, the study suggested that Ghana could become more competitive globally if it could certify its cocoa as “child labor-free”.