Nestlé is helping hundreds of children whom it has found to be working on the Côte d'Ivoire cocoa farms where it sources the cocoa for its chocolate.
For two years the company, with its partner the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), has been raising awareness of the child labour issue in the country's cocoa-growing communities, and helping children working on cocoa farms get back to school.
"Nestlé is providing cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire with the practical support and means to get their children into the classroom," said Sandra Martinez, the head of the company's global Chocolate and Confectionery business.
"Identifying exactly what is happening, and where, represents an important first step to resolving the issue of child labour in cocoa farming," she added.
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has today published its first report on Nestlé's cocoa supply chain since the company joined the organisation, highlighting areas where the company needs to do more to meet the FLA code.
As a company, we are doing all we can but we acknowledge that, as long as children work on cocoa farms, there will always be more to doSandra Martinez, Global Head of Chocolate and Confectionery
Their assessment is helping to ensure the effectiveness of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan which seeks to improve the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities, addressing child labour while improving productivity and ensuring the flow of good quality, sustainable cocoa.
The FLA's report suggests that more targeted help is needed for children at risk.
Monitoring and Remediation
Nestlé also has its own system to monitor and map where children are working, or at risk of working on cocoa farms. In each cocoa community, liaison officers are chosen by the residents themselves and trained by Nestlé’s partner, the ICI. The officers are able to recognise the family situations in which children are more likely to work on farms.
This "monitoring and remediation" scheme is already operating in 10 of the 57 farmer cooperatives which supply the company with cocoa in Côte d'Ivoire and it will cover them all by the end of 2016.
Nestlé and the ICI have begun taking steps to help the children identified as being at risk of child labour, or carrying out hazardous tasks. Already, 639 are being helped and efforts to reach others are under way.
The company has helped more than 200 children obtain the birth certificates they need to enroll in school and is providing school kits and uniforms to their families.
In the Côte d'Ivoire's cocoa communities, women are more likely to seek to send their children to school, so Nestlé is piloting projects to enable mothers of children at risk of working on cocoa farms to generate their own, independent income – for example, by growing and selling cassava. Cassava-growing can generate enough income to cover the cost of enrolling two children in school per household.
The company is also looking at creating apprenticeship schemes and vocational training and literacy courses for children above school age.
It is also setting up groups who will be employed by villages to undertake high-risk activities, such as cutting trees and spraying crops, reducing the risk that these sorts of tasks are taken on by children.
"As a company, we are doing all we can but we acknowledge that, as long as children work on cocoa farms, there will always be more to do," said Ms Martinez.
In numbers: Nestlé's child labour monitoring system
- 4,500 farmers and 10,000+ children
- 14 child labour agents
- 273 community liaison officers
- 517 co-operative managers trained
- 3,955 farmers and 11,608 cocoa community members have attended training sessions
Nestlé Cocoa Plan
The Cocoa Plan in Action
Our commitments on responsible sourcing
Nestlé’s commitment on child labour
International Cocoa Initiative
Fair Labor Association
The Cocoa Plan: Find a selection of images in our Flickr photostream
Jul 9, 2014: Helping Cote d’Ivoire's women in cocoa communities
Jun 29, 2012: Nestlé sets out actions to address child labour
Nov 28, 2011: Nestlé becomes first company to partner with FLA
Oct 22, 2009: Nestlé launches the Cocoa Plan
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Email: Nestlé Corporate Media Relations