A large amount of the chocolate we are consuming today came from the cocoa fields in Africa. In fact, according to CNN, 76.8 percent of the coca beans that were exported from Africa during the year of 2008 and 2009. The average U.S. citizen eating over 11 pounds of chocolate (that’s about 120 chocolate bars) per year, however, there are very few of us are aware of the cruelties involved in the cacao production; Human trafficking, child slavery, and abusive labor practices are surprisingly under reported in the cacao industry.
The chocolate industry is worth an estimated $110 billion a year, and yet its key commodity is grown by some of the poorest people on the planet. In additional, the worst forms of child labor are happening in these chocolate industry. I was shocked and disappointed when I found out many of the famous and trusted chocolate brand are using child labor in their production.
Abdul is ten years old and he have been working in the cocoa field in Daloa, Ivory Coast for three years. Abdul’s job is crack the yellow cocoa pod into two pieces and snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He said that he did not earn any wages for the job; all he is given is a little food, the torn clothes on his back, and an occasional tip from the farmer. Abdul did not chose to work in the field. Moreover, he does not want to work in the field; a stranger brought him across the border to the cocoa field after his mother died.
Yacou is fifteen and his job in the cocoa field is hacking the cocoa pods. His leg is covered with scars from crossing the cocoa fields. “I wish I could go to school. I want to read and write,” said Yacou. But Yacou hasn’t spent a single day in school, and he has no idea how to leave the farm. Like many of the child labor in the cocoa fields, Abdul and Yacou do know the taste of chocolate; He does not know what cocoa is for.
There are many other child labor like Abdul who were brought to the field and forced to work. According to BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their parents for a pittance, or in some cases outright stolen, and then shipped to the Ivory Coast, where they are sold as slaves to cocoa farms. These children usually age from twelve to fourteen years-old, sometimes even younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing; they are barely fed, beaten regularly, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.
My heart is broken after reading articles about child labor in the cocoa field. I was shocked by the fact that the children in the cocoa field are the nearest people in the world to chocolate, but they don’t even know what cocoa is for. I think I need to rethink before buying chocolate from now on.