Cargill Launches Effort to Prevent Child Labor in West Africa

Cargill Launches Effort to Prevent Child Labor in West Africa

Food giant Cargill teams up with International Cocoa Initiative to monitor the cocoa supply chain in West Africa.

Cargill, one of the world’s largest food and agriculture companies, and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an organization that promotes child protection in cocoa-growing communities, have partnered to expand their joint actions on child labor in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Scaling up a relationship that has been ongoing since 2002, the two organizations are now establishing a monitoring system in Cargill’s cocoa supply chain to identify and protect children, especially those involved in child labor.

This system for child labor prevention and response, called Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), is based on best practices developed by ICI. The system will be embedded in the monitoring and evaluation program for the Cargill Cocoa Promise, the company’s sustainable cocoa program, and will be piloted this year in eight farmer cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire reaching nearly 7,000 cocoa farming households. The system will help Cargill identify and understand incidences of child labor so that appropriate remediation activities can be undertaken.

“At Cargill, we recognize that we cannot tackle child labor in cocoa-farming communities on our own. Working alongside technical experts like the ICI helps us learn how to take a labor-monitoring system to scale in a complex, smallholder agricultural supply chain,” explains Taco Terheijden, sustainability director of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. “Cooperatives have proven to be one of the most efficient and effective means to reach cocoa farmers, reduce poverty and impact their livelihoods. Working together with ICI and the cooperatives on establishing CLMRS is a crucial next step in the important journey to both understand and eradicate child labor from our cocoa supply chains.”

In September 2016, ICI started training Cargill’s network of “lead farmers,” influential members of farmers’ cooperatives working with the company, to serve as child labor agents and lead interventions that help children escape child labor. As trusted members of the community and cocoa farmers themselves, these lead farmers have been trained by ICI to conduct regular household interviews, collect and share relevant socio-economic data via mobile technology, and to provide education on the dangers of child labor. By providing technical guidance on all aspects of the system, ICI is building the capacity of Cargill to manage the system on its own, and to be able to fully integrate it into its core business.

The Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) was crafted by ICI in order to identify and address cases and causes of child labor in cocoa-growing regions of West Africa. It works at all levels of the supply chain in order to enable companies to develop tailored responses. ICI is already directly assisting 2,400 children found to be involved in hazardous activities through the Nestlé CLMRS pilot, which has been running since 2012.

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