Cocoa from Africa’s Ivory Coast
From Egypt in the north to Cape Town at the southern tip, Africa is an amazing continent. A continent of never-ending beauty and rich in natural resources. Sad to say, the most precious resource – its people,  have been ravaged since the days of the Arab slave trade in the middle ages.

The slave trade still exists today and slavers have easy pickin’s going after the children. Some slavers simply kidnap the kids. Others buy them for as little as $30.

Many are taken to the cocoa farms of the Ivory Coast, which produces 70% of the cocoa beans coming into the U.S. There,  kids usually 12-to-14-years old, but sometimes younger, are forced to work 80 to 100 hours a week carrying 13 lb. sacks on their shoulders.

Some work so hard they get sick and die. Some are imprisoned on the plantations and beaten if they try to escape. Some commit suicide.

In 2001, U.S. Representative Eliot Engel and Senator Tom Harkin introduced The Harkin-Engel Protocol, commonly referred to as the Cocoa Protocol. It’s an international agreement aimed at ending child labor in the production of cocoa.

The Protocol stipulated that by July 2005, the chocolate industry would develop standards of certification to develop and implement voluntary standards to certify cocoa produced without the “worst forms of child labor.”

This deadline was not met. An extension of the Protocol was agreed upon, giving industry 3 more years to implement the Protocol. Again, after 3 more years, the key promises of the Protocol have not been met.

So what can we do to force the chocolate industry to stop using from plantations where children are used as slaves? We can start by buying only Fair Trade products. Look for the logo:

Some brands that use Slave-free chocolate:

•    Equal Exchange (Whole Foods, New Seasons)
•    Endangered Species (Whole Foods, Target, New Seasons)
•    Rapunzel (Whole Foods)
•    Green and Black’s (available at Target!)
•    Newman’s Own (New Seasons, Whole Foods)
•    Tropical Source (New Season’s, Whole Foods)
•    Any fair-trade certified brands

Toto performing Africa: