The problem of child labour in supply chains – especially in cocoa – continues to be a real and urgent global concern. Fairtrade applauds Nestle’s announcement of its intentions to address some of the most pressing issues associated with child labour, including steps to increase farmer incomes.
For years, Fairtrade has advocated for better incomes for farmers through its Minimum Price and Premium. With our Living Income Strategy, we are working with brands and retailers to move even closer to achieving living incomes for farmers by establishing a Living Income Reference Price (LIRP), which is the price needed for an average farmer household with a viable farm size and adequate productivity level to make a living income from the sales of their crop.
We also believe that strong, long-term relationships, such as multi-year contracts, are key to empowering farmers to forecast their incomes and plan for their futures. We are encouraged to see that a major global brand is committing to a long-term investment with the farmers in its supply chain.
However, without a commitment from buyers to purchase increased volumes of product at a sustainable price, living incomes simply cannot be achieved. Living incomes must be a mainstream goal for the cocoa industry.
With endemic issues, such as child labour, only comprehensive, holistic approaches can deliver the most impactful outcomes. Indeed, according to the ILO, ensuring children have access to nearby schools, providing access to basic health and human services, developing safe youth employment options, providing income diversification, and addressing discrimination are all necessary to make long-lasting change possible.
No one organisation will be able to tackle the issue of child labour and poverty alone. It will take purposeful commitments from brands, NGOs, producers, and governments to make the necessary changes. Therefore, it’s critical that all of us within the cocoa industry work together alongside cocoa-producing communities so we can end the practice of child labour and move toward decent livelihoods for farmers.