Home » Mars Exposed for Using Child Labour in Ghana’s Cocoa Farms

Mars Exposed for Using Child Labour in Ghana’s Cocoa Farms

How the chocolate giant has been exploiting children and farmers in West Africa

by Motoni Olodun

A new report by CBS News has revealed that Mars, one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers, has been using child labor to source cocoa beans from Ghana. The report found that children as young as five were working on farms that supply the company, despite its pledge to protect children and pay farmers a living income.

The report, which was based on a visit to Ghana’s remote cocoa belt, showed shocking footage of small children carrying machetes into the fields, with one nearly cutting off his fingers as he hacked open a cocoa pod. The children said they did not attend school and that no one checked on them.

The report also exposed the flaws in Mars’ monitoring system, which was supposed to keep children in schools. CBS News obtained copies of the list of children who were supposed to be in school and confirmed that some of them were working in the fields. In some cases, the names on the list were made up or did not exist.

Mars, which makes popular candies such as M&M and Snickers, said it has a Child Labour and Remediation System (CLMRS) in place that complies with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) standard. The company also said it supports the Living Income Differential of $400 per metric ton announced by the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in 2019 to ensure that farmers receive a higher income.

However, the report found that some farmers earned as little as $115 for a 140 pound bag of cocoa, which is far below the poverty line. The farmers said they could not afford to hire adult workers and had to rely on their children to help them.

The report also highlighted the contrast between the wealth of Mars and the poverty of the cocoa farmers. Mars, which was founded in 1911 by the Mars family, is one of the richest families in the world. The company’s CEO, Poul Weihrauch, earns an estimated $10 million a year.

This has sparked outrage and calls for action from human rights groups, consumers, and other stakeholders. The issue of child labor in the cocoa industry has been a longstanding problem that has been difficult to eradicate. According to the US Department of Labor, more than 1.5 million children work in cocoa production in West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from.

The report has also raised questions about the effectiveness of certification schemes, such as Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, which are supposed to ensure that cocoa is produced ethically and sustainably. The report found that some of the farms that supplied Mars were certified by these schemes, but still used child labour.

Mars said it condemns the use of child labor and that it is working with parties across the cocoa sector to advance respect for human rights in the cocoa supply chain. The company said it is committed to achieving 100% responsibly sourced cocoa by 2025.

However, some experts and activists say that more needs to be done to end the exploitation of children and farmers in the cocoa industry. They say that companies like Mars need to pay a fair price for cocoa, invest in education and infrastructure, and ensure transparency and accountability in their supply chains. They also say that consumers need to be aware of the hidden costs of cheap chocolate and demand ethical products.

The report has also highlighted the need for more research and innovation to improve the quality and productivity of cocoa, which could benefit both the farmers and the environment. Some initiatives, such as the Cocoa & Forests Initiative and the World Cocoa Foundation, are working to promote sustainable cocoa farming and protect the forests and biodiversity in cocoa-growing regions.

Source: Daily Mail

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