Chocolate Association Addresses Labor Abuse

Compiled By Traci Purdum In an attempt to curb abusive labor practices in West Africa, the Chocolate Manufacturers Assn. (CMA) has launched an initiative to address workers' rights issues on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the two leading growers of cocoa. As part of its initiative, the McLean, Va.-based CMA plans to collaborate with international aid organizations, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), local governments, and human rights organizations to support the Ivorian government's efforts to end child trafficking. "As an industry, we strongly condemn abusive labor practices, and our goal is to be part of the worldwide effort to solve this problem," says Larry Graham, president of the CMA. The CMA -- whose members include Hershey Foods Corp., Mars Inc., and Nestle USA -- will significantly fund the action plan that will include a comprehensive government study of working conditions in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Actions taken will be done in collaboration with European governments and such industry trade associations as the British Cake, Confectionery and Cocoa Assn.; the International Cocoa Organization; and the European Cocoa Alliance. Conducted under the auspices of the USAID, the study will include 2,000 farms in the Ivory Coast and 1,000 farms in Ghana. From the findings, pilot programs will be implemented. The programs will attempt to define appropriate labor standards for family farms, address child labor issues, and monitor the cocoa export pipeline for abusive practices.

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