Expanding CocoaLink In The Ivory Coast
With approximately 800,000 cocoa farmers across the Ivory Coast, there are many famers and families that could benefit from CocoaLink. Hershey will be partnering with the Ivory Coast Government through their Coffee and Cocoa Committee (CCC) along with their agricultural extension agents.
Mobile technology usage in West Africa has greatly increased in the last two or three years, which is a great tool for farmers to access proper farming practices.
Hershey projects over the next two years – through the outreach from the government and from the private sector – that they will enroll 100,000 Ivory Coast farmers into that program.
“Developing a sustainable supply of cocoa for the world is a challenge for the entire chocolate industry,” notes Day. “We welcome any other chocolate companies around the world to partner with us; they’re free to participate in CocoaLink. It’s certainly our sincere hope that others follow us on that path.”
CocoaLink, along with many other programs, also connects farmers with vital information about child labor and safety.
Eliminating Child Labor
In addition to CocoaLink, Hershey and various chocolate companies are involved with the foundation called the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI). According to ICI’s website:
ICI has identified the main underlying causes of child and forced labor as a result of combination of poverty, ignorance, and lack of social protection policies and system, as well as schooling facilities and in some cases outright exploitation.
ICI helps to train the local farmers on the national rules and regulations of child labor. Furthermore, ICI assists in monitoring cocoa farms and ensures there is progress being made on eliminating child labor. By the end of this year, ICI will have community-based programming in about 550 West African communities, McCormick mentions.
ICI works both at the government level and community level to ensure a protective environment for children in cocoa-growing communities.
“These problems are difficult,” says McCormick. “We are championing an across-the-industry approach because no company, however well-intentioned, can do this alone. We also understand that at the end of the day it must be done in cooperation with the cocoa farmers, the cocoa agents and the governments in West Africa.”
How Chocolate Companies Can Follow Suit
There are many sustainable organizations that can allow companies to commit to sourcing 100 percent certified cocoa. Here is a list of organizations that were mentioned above, in addition to other organizations that help protect the environment and the lives of exploited children and employees: