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Child Labour Haunts US Chocolate Firms and Africa’s Cocoa Producers

The use of child labour on cocoa farms in top producers Ivory Coast and Ghana has risen over the past decade despite industry promises to reduce it, according to a draft of a report funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. It is expected to be published later this month and shows that more than 2 million children worked in the sector last season in the West African countries that produce about two-thirds of the world’s cocoa. The level of child labour is higher than in 2010 when companies including Mars, Hershey, Nestle and Cargill [CARGIL.UL] pledged to reduce the worst forms of child labour in their West African supply chains by 70% by 2020. Ghana cocoa regulator, Cocobod, rejected the report’s findings. The Ivorian government committee responsible for child labour issues said the numbers in the draft shouldn’t be considered final because there were some issues with the methodology that have yet to be resolved to the government’s satisfaction. Whilst Richard Scobey, the head of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), an industry group that represents companies including Nestle and Hershey, acknowledged that the industry was not on track to meet its target set in 2010. But he said the report was not complete and he could not yet comment.