Hershey Announces Plans to Reinforce Cocoa Sustainability in West Africa

FBR Staff Writer Published 31 January 2012

The Hershey Company, the US-based chocolate manufacturer, plans to invest $10m over the next five years in West Africa, in programs to lower child labor and improve farming communities, as a part of its plan to reinforce cocoa sustainability efforts.

The company plans to work with experts in agriculture, community development and government, and by 2017, Hershey’s public and private partnerships are expected to directly benefit 750,000 African cocoa farmers and over two million people in cocoa communities across the region.

The Hershey Company president and CEO JP Bilbrey said the company is extending its commitment with new programs to drive long-term change in cocoa villages where families will benefit from the company’s investments in education, health and economic opportunities.

“Our global consumers want The Hershey Company to be a leader in responsible business practices and in finding smart ways to benefit cocoa communities,” Bilbrey added.

Hershey plans to partner with Rainforest Alliance, a non-governmental organization (NGO), to train cocoa farmers to help them address global climate change and adapt to its impacts.

Later this year, the company will launch Hershey’s Bliss products with 100% cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms – the farms which have met comprehensive sustainability standards that protect the environment and ensure the well-being of workers, their families and communities.

Hershey said that it is working with the Rainforest Alliance to source cocoa from certified farms in Latin America and Africa for Hershey’s premium brand Dagoba.

The company plans to increase the presence of CocoaLink mobile phone project to Ivory Coast, which has approximately 600,000 cocoa farmers, with about half are already using mobile phones.

The CocoaLink project, which was launched in 2011 in Ghana, involves sending text and voice messages to cocoa farmers to help them improve farming practices, understand problems related to pests and adverse weather conditions, improve labor practices and ask questions of cocoa experts in real time.

Under the next phase of CocoaLink, Hershey plans to work with the Rainforest Alliance to include important messages about conservation and climate change into the program, and also reach 100,000 Ghana cocoa farmers by 2014.

In addition, Hershey and Source Trust, a non-profit organization, have launched a new initiative ‘Hershey Learn to Grow’, which will establish 25 community-based farmer organizations.

Through the organizations, Hershey plans to improve the living standards of 1,250 cocoa farm families through good agricultural, environmental, social and business practices training; improve access to improved planting material; and finance for farm inputs with the goal to double productivity yield and farm income over four years.

Hershey and Source Trust will also assist the Government of Ghana to meet the goals of Ghana’s 2009-2015 National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL) and bring high-tech learning to rural farm villages.


CLC/NCL letter to USA Today on Hazardous Occupations Orders for U.S. Agriculture Published

Standards cover hazardous work

USA TODAY’s article “Updated federal regulations target kids’ work on farms” strove for balance, but readers might be left with the impression that the proposed safety rules are overly intrusive and that the government is picking on agriculture.

The fact is that agriculture is exempted from most child labor laws, and children can work for wages at 12. The occupational safety regulations for agriculture have not been significantly updated for four decades, and the Department of Labor (DOL) is simply trying to move agriculture closer to the protection level offered by all other industries, which require individuals to be 18 before they can perform hazardous work.

DOL has carefully focused on the most hazardous farm activities. The tasks 14-year-old Austin performs in the article’s accompanying photo gallery would all be allowed under the new rules because he is working on his parents’ farm and has a blanket exemption.

And he could do all of the tasks on any farm with one exception: Before he could drive a tractor on another farm, he would need to take a comprehensive safety course first or turn 16. The farm community should embrace these rules because they will save lives and prevent many serious injuries.

Reid Maki; Director of Social Responsibility and Fair Labor Standards; National Consumers League; Washington, D.C.


At the Deep End: Child Labor in Fisheries

from Malaya Business Insight, PHILIPPINES

FILIPINO children work in extremely hazardous fisheries.

The most notorious and extremely dangerous of deep sea jobs is in muro-ami which employs children as swimmers and divers using nets to fish in reefs.

Called reef hunters, they dive for fish or free snagged nets. The perception is that their smaller bodies are better for diving deeper and that their fingers are nimble to hook and unhook nets.

The job is called by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) extremely hazardous child labor in a country where, it estimates, as much as 5 percent of children work in fisheries.

Child divers risk ear damage, injuries from falls, shark attacks, snake bites and drowning, says the International Labor Organization (ILO). Read more


India’s Exploited Child Cotton Workers

By Humphrey HawksleyBBC News, Gujarat

Civil rights activist Jignesh Mevani describes the conditions endured by India’s child cotton workers

The noise was deafening and air in the factory in northern Gujarat was so thick with cotton dust it was like a snowstorm at night.

Women and girls, some no more than 10 or 11, fed machines with raw cotton picked from the nearby fields.

It is a process known as ginning – one end of a commercial supply chain that ends up as clothes and textiles in high street shops around the world. Globally, annual revenues from the industry are measured in the trillions of dollars.

Many household-name retailers concede they do not know exactly how the cotton they use is farmed and processed. Yet, for years, labour activists here have campaigned for their help.

Missing parents

“The workers’ lives are terrible,” said Jignesh Mevani, an activist who was our guide. “They are not paid the minimum wage. There are no safety precautions. There are many children.” Read more


High Price of Gold is Child Slave Labor


By Jeanette Pavini

Award-winning broadcast journalist and author Jeanette Pavini writes the Buyer Beware column for MarketWatch and wants to hear your stories, questions, problems and complaints. Write to her at .

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Gold has been one of the greatest investment stories of the past decade, and its safe-haven appeal is likely to continue, with demand remaining solid for physical gold and gold jewelry. But regardless of the price gyrations in gold futures and demand, do we really know what the cost of gold is in human terms?

The surge in demand for physical gold has not only polished the fortunes of large mining companies, but has also driven a modern-day gold rush: The United Nations estimates there are between 15 million and 20 million gold miners in more than 70 countries worldwide.

What consumers need to be aware of is where the gold GLD -0.07%   and gold jewelry they purchase originates from. For the most part, gold comes from large-scale industrial mining operations which require skilled labor. Large mining operations in developing country can spur economic growth for the region.

But some artisanal and small-scale mining operations, known as ASMs, operate in poorer regions and places where child exploitation and human trafficking is common. Read more


Child Labor Coalition Announces Top 10 Child Labor Stories of 2011

List Points to Some of 2012’s Child Labor Priorities

Washington, DC—Advocates from the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), a group representing more than two dozen organizations concerned with protecting working youth, has released a list of the top ten child labor stories from 2011. The list represents international and American issues in child labor that received considerable attention in 2011 and what advocates hope is an increase in attention to exploitation faced by vulnerable child workers that has previously gone unnoticed by mainstream media.

“The year brought some much needed attention to serious child labor problems in the supply chains of some of the world’s largest companies,” said Reid Maki, Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition and the Director of Social Responsibility and Fair Labor Standards for the National Consumers League (NCL). “However, we also saw a disturbing move in a few states to roll back long-standing child labor protections and a much-publicized attack on child labor laws by a presidential candidate.

The year’s 10 biggest stories, according to the CLC, included (in no particular order):

Apple acknowledges that child labor contributed to the making of iPhones and other electronic gadgets in its Chinese factories. In February, Apple announced that it had found 91 children worked at its suppliers in 2010—a nine-fold increase from the previous year. The company also acknowledged that 137 workers had been poisoned by the chemical, n-hexane, at a supplier’s manufacturing facility and that less than a third of the facilities it audited were complying with Apple’s code on working hours. In the year prior to December 2010, Apple had sales of over $65 billion.

Victoria’s hidden “secret”: children help harvest the cotton that goes into garments. Bloomberg Markets Magazine revealed in December that some of the cotton retail giant Victoria’s Secret uses is harvested by young children in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. The piece profiled 13-year-old Clarisse Kambire, who works on a cotton farm, where she said she is routinely beaten by the owner. By hand, Clarisse performs work that many farmers use a plow and oxen to perform and often works in 100-plus degree heat and eats just one meal a day. Some days she gets no food. Many of the children like Clarisse are considered “foster children” and receive no wages— most do not attend school. Limited Brand, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, has annual sales in excess of $5 billion.

Read more


DOL on its Proposed Child-Safety Rules for U.S. Agriculture

In September 2011, the Department of Labor proposed a rule to increase protections for workers age 15 and younger who are employed in agriculture. There are many misconceptions about how the rule would affect young agricultural workers. Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division Nancy Leppink answers three pressing questions about it.

Why was this rule proposed? “Studies show that young workers are significantly more likely to die or suffer a serious injury while performing agricultural work than in any other industry. Agricultural workers ages 15-17 have a risk of fatality that is four times greater than that of the average 15- to 17-year-old. The proposed rule targets the tasks that are most likely to result in death or serious injury.”

How would the rule affect small family farms? “The proposed rule would not affect children working on family farms owned by their parents. A child of any age may perform any job at any time on a farm owned by his or her parent. A child of any age may perform any job on a farm operated, but not owned, by his or her parent, but only outside of school hours.”

Would the rule prohibit all agricultural work for minors? “The department recognizes the valuable role of agricultural work in promoting a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the nation’s land and animals. There will be many opportunities for children under the age of 16 to work on farms, just as they have done for decades, but the rule would restrict hired farmworkers under the age of 16 from performing specific tasks that have killed or injured a disproportionate number of young workers in the past.”


Rick Montgomery Kansas City Star Response

Rick Montgomery’s January 2nd  piece, “Proposed Changes to Child Labor Law Could Affect Life on the Farm,” fails to note that the proposed Department of Labor (DOL) protections could save 50-100 kids from dying on farms over the next decade, according to the estimates of the Child Labor Coalition.  Agriculture is the most dangerous industry in which large numbers of kids work, and the proposed regulations are long overdue, representing the first significant update of child labor safeguards for agriculture in 40 years. The protections are necessary because of widespread exemptions to child labor laws that agriculture enjoys and will continue to enjoy. The “parental exemption,” for example, will continue to exempt from coverage kids working on their parents’ farm. Children will still be allowed to work on farms at the age of 12 as long as the work task is not known to be especially hazardous by DOL. We would ask farm families, isn’t preventing 50-100 child deaths worth some minor inconveniences? This summer two 17-year-old boys lost their legs in a grain augur in Oklahoma. The proposed protections would apply some common sense protections and save thousands of teen workers from needless pain and suffering. Read more


UK Child Labor Record Worsens

Britain’s record on protecting children from workplace exploitation worsened over the past year, new research claims.

The UK was rated “medium risk” in the annual child labour index compiled by Bath-based global analysts Maplecroft.

It rose 12 places to be ranked 142nd this year, ahead of low-risk countries including Hong Kong (160th), France (163rd), Germany and Ireland (jointly at 175th) and Australia (185th).

Maplecroft said Britain fared worse in the index than other Western nations because large numbers of children were trafficked to and within the UK for labour and sexual exploitation.

The survey of 197 countries was topped by Burma, North Korea, Somalia and Sudan in joint first place, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.

A total of 76 nations were judged to pose an “extreme risk” to children’s welfare through the use of underage workers, up more than 10% from 68 last year.

The analysts put this sharp increase down to deteriorating security, resulting in greater numbers of children fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced or refugees, and the global economic downturn.

The research also highlighted the risk to multinational supply chains from the prevalence of child labour in rapidly-growing emerging countries including India (ranked 27th), China (36th), Vietnam (37th) and Brazil (54th).

Maplecroft human rights analyst Chris Kip said: “Business can be directly implicated or can be deemed complicit in violations of the prohibition of child labour if children are found to be working within their operations or are used by their suppliers.

“Companies should ensure stringent human rights due diligence within their supply chain is undertaken to reduce the risk of damaged reputations, litigation, investor alienation and consumer backlash.”

Read more:


Donna Ballman: Why Repealing Child Labor Laws Is a Truly Stupid Idea


By Donna Ballman

Did you hear the one where the Republican contender for president said we ought to repeal child labor laws? Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but if you weren’t paying attention due to all the holiday parties, you might have missed Newt Gingrich’s comments on the subject. He said that child labor laws are “truly stupid.” He wants poor 10-year-olds to become school janitors.

As the mother of a 10-year-old, Mr. Gingrich’s comments have been weighing on me. I had to speak up. Talk like this might get some headlines and votes, but it’s shortsighted to even think about abolishing child labor laws.

Anyone who is thinking that this proposal is anything but idiotic needs a little history lesson:
In the beginning of the industrial age, factory owners figured out that the machines were so simple, even a child could operate them. Children were less likely to push for those pesky unions. So poor children were sent to work in factories with dangerous equipment. Children would work 12 to 18 hours a day, six days a week, to earn a dollar. Factories were creative in ways to keep the “young imps” inside, using barbed wire and locked fire exits. Children would do dangerous jobs like carrying hot glass, working in coal mines, hauling heavy loads, and working in textile mills. Read more