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Sun Jun 9, 2019, 11:16 PM

Cocoa's child laborers

Source: Washington Post

Cocoa’s child laborers

Mars, Nestlé and Hershey pledged nearly two decades ago to stop using cocoa harvested by children. Yet much of the chocolate you buy still starts with child labor.

By Peter Whoriskey and Rachel Siegel Photos by Salwan Georges June 5, 2019

GUIGLO, Ivory Coast — Five boys are swinging machetes on a cocoa farm, slowly advancing against a wall of brush. Their expressions are deadpan, almost vacant, and they rarely talk. The only sounds in the still air are the whoosh of blades slicing through tall grass and metallic pings when they hit something harder.

Each of the boys crossed the border months or years ago from the impoverished West African nation of Burkina Faso, taking a bus away from home and parents to Ivory Coast, where hundreds of thousands of small farms have been carved out of the forest.

These farms form the world’s most important source of cocoa and are the setting for an epidemic of child labor that the world’s largest chocolate companies promised to eradicate nearly 20 years ago.

“How old are you?” a Washington Post reporter asks one of the older-looking boys.

“Nineteen,” Abou Traore says in a hushed voice. Under Ivory Coast’s labor laws, that would make him legal. But as he talks, he casts nervous glances at the farmer who is overseeing his work from several steps away. When the farmer is distracted, Abou crouches and with his finger, writes a different answer in the gray sand: 15.

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/business/hershey-nestle-mars-chocolate-child-labor-west-africa/

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