ICI in the cocoa barometer 2015
The 2015 Cocoa Barometer, launched on March 6th by the VOICE consortium of European Civil Society Organisations advocating for a sustainable cocoa economy, is a welcome and well-researched review of many of the complex and structural challenges faced by the cocoa and chocolate sector today.
“These challenges will have to be addressed if we are to better meet the needs and interests of cocoa farmers and thereby ensure a more sustainable long-term supply of chocolate” said Nick Weatherill, Executive Director of ICI.
ICI supports the report’s assertion that cocoa farmers do not currently earn sufficient income, whether from cocoa-farming or from other means, to meet their basic needs. Coupled with inadequate access to schools and other public services, this contributes to farming families’ prevalent use of their children in cocoa farming. Tackling this child labour, as both a symptom and a self-perpetuating cause of unsustainability and poverty in the cocoa sector, is at the heart of ICI’s mission.
Whilst farmers clearly need substantially higher incomes, the Cocoa Barometer also demonstrates that there may be insufficient value in the value chain to support all the necessary investments in sustainability that will lift farmers out of poverty, and acknowledges that governments in producing countries also have a major role to play in securing better living conditions for their farmers.
In spite of the challenges, the cocoa sector is already taking unprecedented steps to change, solutions are growing and progress is being made. ICI’s proven model to improve social conditions and reinforce child protection in cocoa-growing communities looks set to be substantially scaled-up by the cocoa industry as of this year.
“This is an important first step in reaching more communities more effectively, with approaches that we know have an impact” said Nick Weatherill previously about the chocolate industry’s coordinated CocoaAction initiative. In response to the Cocoa Barometer, he added “While these expanded actions are rolled out there will of course be a need to consider how to push further, and this will inevitably require many of the critical, structural issues identified by the Cocoa Barometer to be further examined.”
As the report asserts, tackling these fundamental issues will require joint action by everyone involved, premised on the same principle of shared responsibility that underscores all of ICI’s work. The Cocoa Barometer recognises (on page 17) ICI’s expertise as a field operator and as “a clearinghouse of good practice”, roles which ICI will continue to play in the search for solutions and in the promotion of a sustainable and dignified cocoa supply-chain.