Our lust for chocolate and hearty marketing of leading brands have deprived us of any opportunity of pondering over where it is coming from and how it is processed and packed into an orgasmic treat that all of us crave for.
Chocolate is made out of cacao beans, commonly known as cocoa, which is supplied mostly from countries in Western Africa, like Ghana and Ivory Coast.
The farmers of cocoa are significantly underpaid – less than $2 per day – which is unsustainable and forces them into poverty. This underpayment makes it indispensable for the farmers to employ children in the process.
Instances of slavery have also come up prominently where children are sold to traffickers or farm owners and are forced to undertake such hazardous vocation.
A regular day of children at a farm includes working with a chainsaw to clear the forest and using a dangerous machete to cut bean pods. To put it into perspective, every dash of a machete has the potential to slice a child’s flesh.
These children pertain to the ages of 15, 16, and sometimes even below 10 (!)
In 2000, Slavery: A Global Investigation was aired by BBC that depicted slavery and child labour that pervaded the chocolate industry. An uproar was caused during those years and the major chocolate players were held accountable for the inhumane conduct on the cocoa farms.
For decades, these companies are vowing to eradicate child labour by coming into agreement with governments, but less concrete steps have been undertaken to ensure the same.
Child labour can be eradicated by optimally paying cocoa farmers, so they can sustain themselves and provide education to the children. This will also mean they would be able to employ machinery for doing the hazardous work that they currently have to do using manual tools like a machete.
Other than child labour and slavery, cocoa has a devastating environmental impact as well, as rampant deforestation takes place for its farming.
Chocolate that we crave on a bad day and good has unethicality written all over it. The product started off as a luxury that tasted bitter and has gradually turned into a sweet indulgence by masses that are unaware of its source.