Cocoa firms agree sustainability guidanceMarch 2009
Sustainability principles for the cocoa industry have been unveiled by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF).
The principles, produced after two years of discussions with governments and cocoa farmers, commit WCF’s 60 member companies – who include Hershey, Kraft Foods, Nestle, and Starbucks – to tackling child labour so that ‘children can enjoy childhood and attend school’.
On economic matters, they set a goal of ‘improved and more equitable returns for farmers’, which they say should be achieved by promoting ‘entrepreneurial skills, more effective farmer associations, and more productive, profitable farming practices’.
In recent years the cocoa industry has been under intense pressure over its labour standards, especially on child labour (EP10, issue 2, p6; EP9, issue 1, p5). Businesses in the sector have found it difficult to obtain leverage on the nearly five million small cocoa-farming households worldwide, many of them in Africa. But they have also been criticised for slow progress on drawing up principles.
Sona Ebai, secretary-general of the Cocoa Producers’ Alliance, an organization representing the governments of five cocoa producing countries in Africa, said the latest move would at least clarify for farmers and governments what companies are looking to achieve. ‘The important thing at this stage is that we have a clear vision of what we’re trying to achieve and marshall all our efforts toward this end,’ said Ebai.
The US-based WCF aims to promote a ‘sustainable cocoa economy’ and has member companies in 15 countries.
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