After two decades of failed interventions across the cocoa sector, cocoa-farming communities are still battling the effects of poverty, child labour and deforestation. The 2020 Cocoa Barometer report launched 1 December 2020 is a rallying call: it outlines the necessary steps governments and industry should take, together with farmers and civil society organisations, to end deforestation and human rights abuses in cocoa supply chains.
As momentum for change builds among stakeholders, 2021 provides an important window of opportunity to move towards justice. An increasing number of chocolate companies are asking for regulation; significant global actors such as the EU are committed to putting legislation in place; and the world’s two largest producers of cocoa, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, have agreed a premium to ensure a living income to cocoa farmers.
To seize this moment, the report affirms that the sector must learn from its mistakes or risk repeating them. It finds that previous interventions have failed because efforts were voluntary rather than mandatory, often penalising the farmer rather than chocolate companies; cocoa prices remain low and supply chains lack transparency; attempts to solve complex injustices in the cocoa sector have not been inclusive or holistic enough, and so continue to serve the interests of industry and governments rather than producer farmers.
“We are at the crossroads,” says Isaac Gyamfi, managing director for Solidaridad West Africa. “Do we continue skirting around the issue of farmers’ wellbeing, or will all stakeholders together radically redesign value distribution and decision-making in the cocoa sector? Let’s make space at the table and assure a living income, for both farmers and workers.”
To put an end to deforestation, poverty and human rights abuses in cocoa supply chains, the report’s key recommendations are:
to adopt regulation that changes the system, rather than penalises farmers,
to establish effective partnerships between producer and consumer countries,
to ensure a fair price for farmers.
The publication of the Cocoa Barometer coincided with media reports that Hershey bypassed paying the premium price for cocoa by bulk-purchasing cocoa through the ICE Futures US exchange. Civil Society Organisations in Ghana responded with a statement in anticipation of other chocolate companies seeking loopholes to avoid paying farmers a fair price.
The Cocoa Barometer confirms, again, that in its current form, “the business model for high yields of cocoa means poverty for farmers and excessive profit for chocolate manufacturers.”